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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.
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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: www.clubsolutionsmagazine.com

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] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=12562 [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?”.


Source: www.telosity.net

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

Source: www.business2community.com

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] => https://www.imi.ie/?p=12751 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
Paddy Barr

Paddy Barr

22nd Jun 2020

Managing Partner, Barr Performance Coaching and IMI associate

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?

Influencing Virtual Meetings 

For many of us we usually have the opportunity to engage with colleagues and stakeholders both formally and informally at various times during the day or week, but in the current scenario those informal water cooler or coffee dock moments have been eliminated and nearly all meetings now involve participants connecting from a remote location through a video platform. Consequently, we may need to tweak our approach as our “window” to have influence will probably be restricted to either a segment in a formal meeting or a formal 1:1.

The key to having strong impact and influence always lies in the preparation and ground work prior to the engagement or meeting.


Before the meeting

Preparation is key for successful virtual meetings (Picture source)

Prior to engaging with the individual or individuals you want to impress, you need to have done your ground work by putting yourself in their shoes and answering the questions below.

1. Why should they care about your topic? Why should they care now? Aim to be able to explain the importance of the topic to a third party in plain English in 90 seconds or less – if you can’t explain your point in a simple manner within 90 seconds then you probably don’t understand it well enough.

2. Present the topic in the context of your audience’s priorities. As you think about how you will present the topic it is helpful if you can illustrate how your topic is aligned or consistent with one of their existing priorities. Better still, illustrate how supporting you will help them achieve one of their objectives. If you are trying to displace one of their priorities then you need to clearly point out the benefits for them early in the discussion.

3. What is the outcome you want to achieve? Be specific on what success looks like for the discussion – what outcome are you hoping for? Express your answer as a definitive action, agreement to proceed or a decision. You should be able to summarise the benefits in no more than 3-4 prioritised quantifiable bullet points. Having a “laundry list” of desired benefits or outcomes may suggest that you don’t have a strong argument and so are scraping the barrel.

4. Identify the environment and language. What is going on elsewhere in the business that will distract management/client from your message? Can this be leveraged for your benefit? What is their preferred style and language? For example, Sales and Marketing may tend to find Operations dull, so engage them by talking about how your idea will help them increase revenue/margin/market share or brand awareness. On the other hand, if you are talking to Finance you may choose to highlight process controls, risk mitigation and so on.

5. Organise your pre-meeting actions:

Talk to other influencers and decision makers to solicit support for your position. Have two versions of your topic prepared – the 3 minute version and the 10 minute version.


During the meeting

Running virtual meetings takes a new set of skills (Picture source)

1. Recognise the audience knowledge imbalance: Make a decision: do I need to educate or ignore those who are not up to speed? If you decide to bring everyone up to the same level of understanding on the topic be sure to explain to the group what you are doing so that those who are knowledgeable don’t feel you are patronising them or wasting their time. If you decide it is not necessary to bring everyone up to speed, be sure to offer to bring those who are not knowledgeable on the topic up to speed after the meeting.

2. Listen! Don’t just broadcast: Frequently people get so caught up in their own message that they don’t listen to what others are saying – be sure to “listen to understand” as opposed to “listening to respond”. Listening to understand is listening to the other person in a manner so that you comprehend not only what they are saying, but also the underlying anxiety that may be inherent in their point of view. Essentially, you are listening so that you can build upon their perspective and incorporate their hopes/fears in your view or at least mitigate their concerns so that they feel heard. Many people fall into the trap of “broadcasting” and as such fail to pick up on the verbal and non-verbal signals. To have an impact there must be an engagement with the key individuals. A good engagement will by its very nature be a two way dialogue, so demonstrate that you are open minded and not simply stuck “on message”.

3. Points specific to video or remote engagements
– If you are the host turn up 3-5 minutes early to open the meeting so that other participants are not left hanging around in virtual waiting rooms.
– Use the technology – make use of the chat functionality. Most platforms allow you to contribute without interrupting the flow of the person who is speaking by adding a comment to the chat box that is included in the meeting. This is a great way of showing support for the person who is talking or signalling that you have a question without interrupting them. Some technologies allow you to have an artificial background so you can block out what is going on behind you this is useful if you are in an public location.
– Get familiar with the location of the controls. E.g. switching on and off participants’ video (if band width is low you may want to only use your video when you are speaking). It is helpful if you can assist others in using the controls on their devices.
– Display empathy – some people will find working from home great while others may find it lonely. Take a moment or two to empathise with their respective scenarios
– Use the mute button judiciously if there is background noise in your location put yourself on mute until you have something to say. If there is going to be persistent background noise consider using headphones.
– Limit interruptions – In normal circumstances working from home is not child minding so if at all possible try to limit family interruptions
– Dress as you would at work – it is important that you don’t look like you just got out of bed. There is probably no need to wear a suit or be overly formal but don’t go too casual.


After the meeting

Make sure you take a meaningful action from the meeting and execute upon it within a specific time period. Taking an action gives you the opportunity to continue the engagement, as opposed to simply making an impression in the meeting but then being forgotten about afterwards. If you do not have a specific action, it is good practice to summarise the result of the discussion in an email to double check that everyone is aligned.


Tips, Tricks and Takeaways

– Remember what is important to you may not be important to the management/client – they pay you to worry about the detail, so don’t fall into the trap of pulling them into the detail unless it is completely necessary. Always focus on what is important to the leader/client and illustrate how the topic will enable them to be successful or achieve their goals.
– Set yourself up as someone who can support the Subject Matter Experts, i.e. someone who recognises, values and appreciates their knowledge. If you are the leader, always give due recognition to the source of the knowledge or expertise when presenting out the decision.
– If you can try to solicit a perspective from others who have dealt with your audience in advance of the meeting – they may be able to give you helpful insights.

Finally, be aware that the introverts and the extroverts will all act differently on calls so you need to use your Emotional Intelligence to ensure that everyone understands your points and key message.