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Today’s leaders must be agile. In the current economic environment, individuals are expected to be highly adaptable and rise to many unseen challenges. A fresh but proven approach to team building, improvisation (improv) encourages participants to develop the key components of being part of a high performing team.

Neil Curran is a teaching and performing improv expert with over 18 years of management and corporate experience. Neil has worked with organisations including Google, Facebook and Dropbox, using Improv techniques to encourage individuals to be more adaptable by learning to react without pre-planning.
Subscribe: iTunesTuneInSoundcloudAcastStitcher – or search ‘IMI Talking Leadership’ in your podcast provider of choice.
[post_title] => Episode 21 | Building High-Performance Teams using Improv [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => episode-21-high-performance-teams-improv [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-04-21 20:23:56 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-04-21 20:23:56 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 12562 [post_author] => 71 [post_date] => 2016-10-25 10:26:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-10-25 10:26:33 [post_content] =>

Touching back on my last blog I mentioned that culture needs to become a strategic business priority (like sales, profit, etc.) and not just a HR priority.

boat with leader Source:

Leadership teams can start the creation of high performance cultures by implementing the following 6 steps:

1. Establish a sense of urgency

They need to make it clear that the current culture needs to change, articulate the vision and business case, and describe the opportunity (as John P. Kotter states in his book The 8-Step Process for Leading Change) in a way that appeals to the hearts and minds of people.

2. Develop a set of strategic beliefs

These are the beliefs senior executives have about their organisation’s environment that enables shaping business strategy e.g. Dell believed that customers would, if the price was right, buy computers from a catalogue rather than go to computer stores as the conventional wisdom dictated they would. They created a $7 billion business.

3. Develop a set of values

Values enable the organisation to act on its strategic beliefs and implement their strategy the right way. Values shape the culture of an organisation, define its character and serve as a foundation in how people act and make decisions. Dell’s values supporting its strategy and strategic beliefs include: Delivering results that make a positive difference; leading with openness and optimism and winning with integrity.

4. Capitalise on quick wins

Capitalize on and honour your cultural strengths and act quickly on any critical behaviour changes required.

5. Challenge those norms that get on the way of high performance

Norms are informal guidelines about what is considered normal (what is correct or incorrect) behaviour in a particular situation. Peer pressure to conform to team norms is a powerful influencer on people’s behaviour, and it is often a major barrier affecting change. It is always easier to go along with the norm than trying to change it…. Common samples of negative norms in some organisations: Perception that it is ok to yell at people, ignore people’s opinions, etc.

6. Role model and recognise the desired behaviours

As Gandhi wonderfully put it “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This empowers action and helps embed the desired culture you are trying to create. Behaviour is a function of its consequences. Behaviour that results in pleasant consequences is more likely to be repeated, and behaviour that results in unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated. According to B. F. Skinner and reinforcement theory “future behavioural choices are affected by the consequences of earlier behaviours”. The argument is clear; if you want people to be brave and challenge the status quo, you shouldn’t make them feel awkward or like difficult employees when they do. Furthermore, if want people to contribute at meetings make sure you actively listen to them and act on their suggestions and ideas.


On his famous article “On the folly of rewarding A while hoping for B” Steven Kerr argues that the way in which we reward and recognise people doesn’t always deliver the desired results. We all have being in situations where we are told to plan for long-term growth yet we are rewarded purely on quarterly earnings; we are asked to be a team player and are rewarded solely on our individual efforts; we are told that the way in which results are achieved is important and yet we promote people who achieve results the wrong / in a Machiavellian way. A friend of mine was recently at a hospital and he complained to the ward manager about the doctor’s bad manners and rudeness. The answer he got was “do you want to be treated by the best heart doctor in the country or a not so good doctor but with a really nice bed manner?”.

My argument is why can’t we have both?

Pedro Angulo is the Programme Director of the IMI Diploma in Strategic HR Management starting on 16th November 2016. Pedro is an Organisational Effectiveness Business Partner in AIB and Chairperson of the Irish EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council). He is a motivational speaker and regular presenter at HR, coaching, change and business conferences / events. _____________________________________ [post_title] => 6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 6-strategies-start-creation-high-performance-cultures [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 12751 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2016-03-01 12:05:26 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-03-01 12:05:26 [post_content] =>

Working with managers at different levels and in many industries, I consistently get asked various questions on how to manage better. One that surfaces most often, especially in large organisations is “ How can I trust my team to do the job in the way it needs to be done?”.



Of course the answer is always “it depends” after all there are many variables at play. To better answer the question, perhaps it is more valuable to understand what the question implies. This question assumes that there is a right way and a wrong way to do the job. The question also assumes that everyone in the team has the same level of skills and experience. If we dig deep, the question also assumes that everyone in the team has the same level of confidence in performing the job. When managers ask this question, they are in truth trying to look for someone to execute the task with the same competence and confidence they have in performing it.

Trust is fundamentally about dependability and predictability. Can I rely on my employee to do this job the way I would?

The consequences of this attitude causes managers to consistently rely on the same people to perform the critical tasks again and again and by doing so they find themselves subject to a number of by-products. trust


The usual suspect generally becomes overwhelmed and overworked but also becomes very capable and experienced and often finds the confidence to get promoted away from the team or leave to seek better employment conditions elsewhere. Those that are seldom trusted with critical tasks become disengaged, demotivated and even loose confidence to a point they might not even take the risk to look for a job elsewhere. Ultimately, these managers find themselves having to perform all the critical task themselves, don’t have time to develop new people and become frustrated with  having to deal with poor performers. The solution to this dilemma has been around for a long time and many experts have developed several models to explain how to manage people development effectively. The late Peter Drucker’s definition of the role of managing is “Achieving results through people”  this means that people are the critical resource to get things done. People are the most important tool a manager must use to execute a plan and deliver high performance results.

Of course for a tool to be effective, it is important to know what it does, how to use it and more importantly how to maintain it in good working order. So if we make this analogy to manage people effectively in the pursuit of high performance a manager has 3 critical jobs to perform:

1. The first job of an effective manager should be to get to know the people in their teams, their strengths and abilities, their passions and motivators, their attitude and preferences. This first step will help a manager understand who in the team is best suited to perform which task. 2. The second most important job of an effective manager should be to facilitate the people in the team to know each other and recognise the strengths and abilities each individual brings to the team. In this way everyone in the team knows who to rely on  for help and support to resolve problems and collaborate effectively. 3. The third most important job of an effective manager should be to formulate a plan that place the relevant talent and skills to work on the tasks and roles that will deliver the required outcomes. While doing so it is also important for a manager to set the appropriate level of expectations that stretch an individual's abilities without straining them. In doing so, a manager should also provide each individual with the opportunity to develop and grow at an appropriate pace.

Things don’t get done if people don’t do them. The best way to develop trust in the people you manage is to help them develop their strengths, confidence and motivation, along the way they will also grow to trust you.

Fabio Grassi is the Programme Director for the IMI Diploma in Executive Coaching which is starting on 20th April 2016. Fabio is a specialist in the development of team performance, collaboration and motivation.  _____________________________________ [post_title] => Are you enabling people to trust you? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => trust-people-manage-help-grow-trust [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:18:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:18:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
Eva Perez

Eva Perez

28th Jun 2020

IMI Associate, Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing Strategy

Related Articles

Episode 21 | Building High-Performance Teams using Improv
6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures
Are you enabling people to trust you?

Connecting with customers through social media in a B2B organisation

There was one salutary lesson for marketers who are trying to connect with their audience; if you are not talking to your audience where they are talking, and listening to what they are doing, you will face some unpleasant surprises.

The campaign run over the social media platform TikTok to sign up for tickets and then not show up didn’t affect the actual attendance, but it did significantly effect how the Trump campaign marketed the event, built expectations for the event, and what data they could usefully use after the event.

It showed how an organisation can be blindsided because they increasingly narrowed their focus on what they’ve done before, rather than what’s happening now. The same principles behind this mass marketing also applies to the B2B space – you need to ensure you are listening, and talking, to your marketplace in the right places online.


Social media evolves

Social media has been around for some time now, LinkedIn was launched in 2003, Facebook 2004, You Tube 2005, Twitter 2006. But the biggest revolution of the 21st century started in 2009 with Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Spotify, etc becoming part of many users’ everyday life.

Despite their popularity, it has taken some time for brands to adopt these tools as key strategic marketing platforms. This is not surprising, considering they have not been designed for marketing use. The B2C market has increasingly taken on the challenge and recognized the advantages facilitated by social media.

However, the B2B market perceives social media as unnecessary and boring. It will take some time for business to realise that social media can be a strategic tool with the potential to increase brand awareness, humanise B2B companies, establish companies as thought leaders, and connect with customers, prospects, industry influencers, and potentially increase sales!


Tell personal stories

What social media platforms can you use to connect with your customer?

If you are in the B2B space and have wondered if social media is something your business should consider, take a note of the following 3 steps to start a successful social media strategy.

1) Your social media strategy needs to extend beyond the marketing department and involve a range of employees in other parts of the business. Success is highly dependent on management support. Invest on training and if possible hire someone with experience and a good social media presence. He/she needs to be a social media role model in the organisation.

2) Start by listening. This will generate valuable market research and customer knowledge. You can do this manually ( small data) or you can buy social media monitoring software to help you listen to large data. Listen to what people are saying about your brand and your competitors. Look out for who the brand opinion leaders are.

3) Compelling content is one of the key contributors to success and this must come from your brand story. Every brand has a story to tell and people love stories. Select key characters for the story, this can be your customers, employees, stakeholders or fictitious characters. Bring your brand to live and use the platforms to showcase it.

Finally, this is not much different in the B2C market apart from the fact that it is more challenging to operate in larger markets. In contrast, B2B are generally fewer, but larger customers and long-term business relationships are central to organisational success. Become a social brand and build relationships using your brand story to connect with your customers.


Listen, contribute

A lot of organisation’s still treat social media like a platform for press releases. They use it to tell what’s happening in an organisation, rather than contributing to other people’s lives. If you can create an ecosystem where the people in your organisation are contributing ideas and content to communities throughout the globe and delivering value to them, that value will come back to your business.

In the B2B space, this connecting of people and their stories is the real goal. When you connect people, create a meaningful connection, and build a bond of trust between them, then doing business becomes much easier.

Where is your audience talking? What are the stories they are telling, and the stories you have to tell? Where and how can you build trust between your organisation’s people and other people in the marketplace?

These are the fundamental questions to answer in order to really leverage the capabilities of social media. If you don’t ask them first, no-one will show up.