High-performing teams: A timeless leadership topic

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on april 18th, 2022 by admin
The value of a high-performing team has long been recognized. It’s why savvy investors in start-ups often value the quality of the team and the interaction of the founding members more than the idea itself. It’s why 90 percent of investors think the quality of the management team is the single most important nonfinancial factor when evaluating an IPO. And it’s why there is a 1.9 times increased likelihood of having above-median financial performance when the top team is working together toward a common vision.“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team,” is the way Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn cofounder, sums it up. Basketball legend Michael Jordan slam dunks the same point: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
The topic’s importance is not about to diminish as digital technology reshapes the notion of the workplace and how work gets done. On the contrary, the leadership role becomes increasingly demanding as more work is conducted remotely, traditional company boundaries become more porous, freelancers more commonplace, and partnerships more necessary. And while technology will solve a number of the resulting operational issues, technological capabilities soon become commoditized.

Cutting through the clutter of management advice

Building a team remains as tough as ever. Energetic, ambitious, and capable people are always a plus, but they often represent different functions, products, lines of business, or geographies and can vie for influence, resources, and promotion. Not surprisingly then, top-team performance is a timeless business preoccupation.

Amid the myriad sources of advice on how to build a top team, here are some ideas around team composition and team dynamics that, in our experience, have long proved their worth.

Team composition

Team composition is the starting point. The team needs to be kept small—but not too small—and it’s important that the structure of the organization doesn’t dictate the team’s membership. A small top team—fewer than six, say—is likely to result in poorer decisions because of a lack of diversity, and slower decision making because of a lack of bandwidth. A small team also hampers succession planning, as there are fewer people to choose from and arguably more internal competition. Research also suggests that the team’s effectiveness starts to diminish if there are more than ten people on it. Sub-teams start to form, encouraging divisive behavior. Although a congenial, “here for the team” face is presented in team meetings, outside of them there will likely be much maneuvering. Bigger teams also undermine ownership of group decisions, as there isn’t time for everyone to be heard.

Beyond team size, CEOs should consider what complementary skills and attitudes each team member brings to the table. Do they recognize the improvement opportunities? Do they feel accountable for the entire company’s success, not just their own business area? Do they have the energy to persevere if the going gets tough? Are they good role models? When CEOs ask these questions, they often realize how they’ve allowed themselves to be held hostage by individual stars who aren’t team players, how they’ve become overly inclusive to avoid conflict, or how they’ve been saddled with team members who once were good enough but now don’t make the grade. Slighting some senior executives who aren’t selected may be unavoidable if the goal is better, faster decisions, executed with commitment.

Of course, large organizations often can’t limit the top team to just ten or fewer members. There is too much complexity to manage and too much work to be done. The CEO of a global insurance company found himself with 18 direct reports spread around the globe who, on their videoconference meetings, could rarely discuss any single subject for more than 30 minutes because of the size of the agenda. He therefore formed three top teams, one that focused on strategy and the long-term health of the company, another that handled shorter-term performance and operational issues, and a third that tended to a number of governance, policy, and people-related issues. Some executives, including the CEO, sat on each. Others were only on one. And some team members chosen weren’t even direct reports but from the next level of management down, as the CEO recognized the importance of having the right expertise in the room, introducing new people with new ideas, and coaching the next generation of leaders.

Team dynamics

It’s one thing to get the right team composition. But only when people start working together does the character of the team itself begin to be revealed, shaped by team dynamics that enable it to achieve either great things or, more commonly, mediocrity.

Consider the 1992 roster of the US men’s Olympic basketball team, which had some of the greatest players in the history of the sport, among them Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, and Scottie Pippen. Merely bringing together these players didn’t guarantee success. During their first month of practice, indeed, the “Dream Team” lost to a group of college players by eight points in a scrimmage. “We didn’t know how to play with each other,” Scottie Pippen said after the defeat. They adjusted, and the rest is history. The team not only won the 1992 Olympic gold but also dominated the competition, scoring over 100 points in every game.

What is it that makes the difference between a team of all stars and an all-star team? Over the past decade, we’ve asked more than 5,000 executives to think about their “peak experience” as a team member and to write down the word or words that describe that environment. The results are remarkably consistent and reveal three key dimensions of great teamwork. The first is alignment on direction, where there is a shared belief about what the company is striving toward and the role of the team in getting there. The second is high-quality interaction, characterized by trust, open communication, and a willingness to embrace conflict. The third is a strong sense of renewal, meaning an environment in which team members are energized because they feel they can take risks, innovate, learn from outside ideas, and achieve something that matters—often against the odds.

So the next question is, how can you re-create these same conditions in every top team?

Getting started

The starting point is to gauge where the team stands on these three dimensions, typically through a combination of surveys and interviews with the team, those who report to it, and other relevant stakeholders. Such objectivity is critical because team members often fail to recognize the role they themselves might be playing in a dysfunctional team.

While some teams have more work to do than others, most will benefit from a program that purposefully mixes offsite workshops with on-the-job practice. Offsite workshops typically take place over two or more days. They build the team first by doing real work together and making important business decisions, then taking the time to reflect on team dynamics.

The choice of which problems to tackle is important. One of the most common complaints voiced by members of low-performing teams is that too much time is spent in meetings. In our experience, however, the real issue is not the time but the content of meetings. Top-team meetings should address only those topics that need the team’s collective, cross-boundary expertise, such as corporate strategy, enterprise-resource allocation, or how to capture synergies across business units. They need to steer clear of anything that can be handled by individual businesses or functions, not only to use the top team’s time well but to foster a sense of purpose too.

The reflective sessions concentrate not on the business problem per se, but on how the team worked together to address it. For example, did team members feel aligned on what they were trying to achieve? Did they feel excited about the conclusions reached? If not, why? Did they feel as if they brought out the best in one another? Trust deepens regardless of the answers. It is the openness that matters. Team members often become aware of the unintended consequences of their behavior. And appreciation builds of each team member’s value to the team, and of how diversity of opinion need not end in conflict. Rather, it can lead to better decisions.

Many teams benefit from having an impartial observer in their initial sessions to help identify and improve team dynamics. An observer can, for example, point out when discussion in the working session strays into low-value territory. We’ve seen top teams spend more time deciding what should be served for breakfast at an upcoming conference than the real substance of the agenda (see sidebar “The ‘bike-shed effect,’ a common pitfall for team effectiveness”). One CEO, speaking for five times longer than other team members, was shocked to be told he was blocking discussion. And one team of nine that professed to being aligned with the company’s top 3 priorities listed no fewer than 15 between them when challenged to write them down.

Back in the office

Periodic offsite sessions will not permanently reset a team’s dynamics. Rather, they help build the mind-sets and habits that team members need to first observe then to regulate their behavior when back in the office. Committing to a handful of practices can help. For example, one Latin American mining company we know agreed to the following:

  • A “yellow card,” which everyone carried and which could be produced to safely call out one another on unproductive behavior and provide constructive feedback, for example, if someone was putting the needs of his or her business unit over those of the company, or if dialogue was being shut down. Some team members feared the system would become annoying, but soon recognized its power to check unhelpful behavior.
  • An electronic polling system during discussions to gauge the pulse of the room efficiently (or, as one team member put it, “to let us all speak at once”), and to avoid group thinking. It also proved useful in halting overly detailed conversations and refocusing the group on the decision at hand.
  • A rule that no more than three PowerPoint slides could be shared in the room so as to maximize discussion time. (Brief pre-reads were permitted.)

After a few months of consciously practicing the new behavior in the workplace, a team typically reconvenes offsite to hold another round of work and reflection sessions. The format and content will differ depending on progress made. For example, one North American industrial company that felt it was lacking a sense of renewal convened its second offsite in Silicon Valley, where the team immersed itself in learning about innovation from start-ups and other cutting-edge companies. How frequently these offsites are needed will differ from team to team. But over time, the new behavior will take root, and team members will become aware of team dynamics in their everyday work and address them as required.

In our experience, those who make a concerted effort to build a high-performing team can do so well within a year, even when starting from a low base. The initial assessment of team dynamics at an Australian bank revealed that team members had resorted to avoiding one another as much as possible to avoid confrontation, though unsurprisingly the consequences of the unspoken friction were highly visible. Other employees perceived team members as insecure, sometimes even encouraging a view that their division was under siege. Nine months later, team dynamics were unrecognizable. “We’ve come light years in a matter of months. I can’t imaging going back to the way things were,” was the CEO’s verdict. The biggest difference? “We now speak with one voice.”


Hard as you might try at the outset to compose the best team with the right mix of skills and attitudes, creating an environment in which the team can excel will likely mean changes in composition as the dynamics of the team develop. CEOs and other senior executives may find that some of those they felt were sure bets at the beginning are those who have to go. Other less certain candidates might blossom during the journey.

There is no avoiding the time and energy required to build a high-performing team. Yet our research suggests that executives are five times more productive when working in one than they are in an average one. CEOs and other senior executives should feel reassured, therefore, that the investment will be worth the effort. The business case for building a dream team is strong, and the techniques for building one proven.

Source: McKinsey.com
Link

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete on januari 23rd, 2022 by admin

Har ni ordning  och reda i begreppsdjungeln?

I mitt arbete med styrelser och företagsledningar diskuteras ofta uttrycken affärsidé, mission, vision, syfte / purpose, värderingar, värdegrund och kultur. Det är slående hur ofta begreppen rörs ihop. Både vad gäller innehåll, betydelse och utmaningarna i förankringen i hela organisationen (dvs hur det i praktiken omsätts i konkreta åtgärder avseende bl.a. ledarskap och dialog med sina kunder).
Min erfarenhet är att man i de flesta fall bör:
1. Reda ut definitionen av begreppen ovan.
2. Säkerställa att innehåll och mening  i respektive definition “samspelar”.
3. Att en större kraft läggs på att omsätta besluten i konkreta aktiviteter (internt och externt).

Känner Du igen Dig? Låt mig gärna veta.

Intressant läsning i detta ämne:

Syfteshetsen kan leda företagen fel

Det borde vara självklart att ett företag inte behöver lägga en massa tid, pengar och energi på att grubbla över varför det finns till och vad det vill åstadkomma. Men vi lever i en komplicerad värld där många organisationer, självmant eller under press, är upptagna med att uppfinna nya skäl till sin existens.

Den som läst Blackrock-vd:n Larry Finks nyligen publicerade vd-brev får inblick i en miljö där företag inte längre kan nöja sig med att maximera vinsten till gagn för sina aktieägare. I en omvärld präglad av pandemi, orättvisor och motsättningar mellan både människor och länder kan företagen inte stå vid sidan av. De måste engagera sig, ta ställning även i frågor som inte primärt berör dem.

”Ditt företags syfte (purpose) är polstjärnan i denna tumultartade miljö”, skriver Fink.

Den som ska peka ut ”polstjärnan” för de anställda och guida bolaget rätt är en så kallad ”chief purpose officer”, en position som Harvard Business Review i sina spaningar inför 2022 identifierat som en av de viktigaste framtida seniora chefsrollerna i företag världen över. Den personen ska se till att företagets syfte genomsyrar verksamheten och därmed skapar mål, mening och arbetsglädje.

Enligt teorin blir anställda gladare om de känner att företaget de arbetar i inte bara har som mål att tjäna pengar utan också har ett högre syfte, exempelvis att bidra till att göra miljön bättre. Inte minst yngre anställda tycker att frågan om vad bolaget gör i en vidare sfär är viktig.

Det finns forskningsstöd för idén att engagerade och glada medarbetare gör ett bättre jobb. En studie med 700 deltagare som universitetet i Warwick gjort visar exempelvis att glada anställda var 12 procent mer produktiva än sina mindre lyckliga kolleger. (Den förstnämnda gruppens ljusare sinnesstämning hade dock ingenting med syften att göra – de hade bjudits på godis och förevisats roliga filmklipp.)

Att ha ett syfte tycks ha blivit en hygienfaktor för företag i dagens näringsliv – och samtidigt ”big business” för de konsultföretag som bland annat lever på att ta fram dem. Man kan undra vad det var för fel på det syfte som ledde till att ett bolag startades från första början. Flera svenska bolag är 100 år eller äldre, och fram till nyligen verkar deras ursprungliga syften ha tjänat dem väl.

Att ta fram ett nytt och högre syfte kostar flera miljoner kronor. Konsulter kopplas in för att hålla arbetsmöten med koncernledningar och anställda. Baserat på företagets verksamhet och strategi lägger konsulterna fram förslag på områden och ord att utgå ifrån. Sedan mejslas syftet ut och formuleras – i regel på det språk som allt fler nordiska företag använder, engelska.

För en utomstående betraktare kan det vara svårt att förstå hur de formuleringar det hela mynnar ut i kan åstadkomma det som sägs vara syftet med syftet: att skapa mening och glädje i interaktionen med anställda, kunder, ägare och samhällen.

Nordeas syfte lyder: ”Together, we lead the way, enabling dreams and everyday aspirations for a greater good.” Den som inte vet att Nordea är en bank skulle ha svårt att lista ut vad bolagets verksamhet är. Electrolux, som säljer vitvaror, har som syfte: ”Shape living for the better”. Ericsson, som med stor framgång sålt telekomutrustning i 145 år, lanserade nyligen ett nytt syfte: ”To create connections that make the unimaginable possible”.

Syfte nämns ofta tillsammans med begrepp som vision och mission, och det kan vara svårt att skilja dem från varandra. Men en återkommande tolkning av syfte är att det ska förklara varför ett bolag finns till. Det kan tyckas självklart, men att döma av exemplen ovan är kopplingen mellan syfte och verksamhet inte alltid lätt att förstå.

Bolagens iver att beskriva sig själva i klichéartat framtidsdoftande termer med lös koppling till kärnverksamheten framstår som ett tecken i tiden, där ytan och orden ofta väger tyngre än det faktiska agerandet och där agendan sätts av amerikanska kapitalförvaltare. Det finns en stor risk för att polstjärnan leder företagen på villospår.

Aktieägare bör på vårens stämmor ta tillfället i akt att fråga bolagets vd och ordförande vad syftet med syftet faktiskt är.

 

 

Källa: DI.se, 22 januari 2022
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Your guide to successful meetings in a hybrid era

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on oktober 29th, 2021 by admin
In her new book, Karin M. Reed dives into our sudden shift to virtual meetings—and how to make the most of them.

In this edition of Author Talks, McKinsey’s Justine Jablonska chats with video communications expert Karin M. Reed about her book, Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work (Wiley, 2021). The Emmy-award-winning broadcast journalist and CEO of Speaker Dynamics compiled her expertise with coauthor Joseph Allen’s data into an engaging and practical guide about how to both lead and participate in virtual meetings. An edited version of the conversation follows.

What problem are you hoping to solve with this book?

Initially, when the pandemic hit, everybody took emergency action in order to move business forward. So they grabbed whatever tools they could to work remote from home, to get business done.

And it might not have necessarily been the thing that worked best; it was just the thing that worked. A year into the pandemic, people are starting to be a bit more strategic in how they’re using those tools and what kind of tools they want to use. Our book is designed to be a practical guide: data-based insights coupled with real-world application; best practices that are based in science.

Efficiency is key

Can you share best practices around video meetings?

A lot of best practices for making meetings really effective seem like common sense, but they’re uncommonly practiced. And a lot of those bad habits are exacerbated in a virtual setting. Video calls don’t need to happen if they are simply a matter of checking a point or a quick information share. But we’re missing out on those conversations when you poke your head into somebody’s office and say, “Hey, a quick follow-up on that.”

There’s also a matter of understanding about the best way to use video and virtual meetings. The most effective ones are shorter and purpose-driven. So rather than an agenda of ten items, think about an agenda of two items, and get into that meeting and get stuff done. Chop things up so that you have a 20-minute meeting, as opposed to a two-hour meeting, because you have to understand the limits of endurance and attention span in this environment.

It’s also important to determine who should be in the meeting. The sweet spot for any productive discussion that needs to lead to a decision is five to seven people. And that is any meeting, whatsoever. If you have more than seven people in a virtual meeting and you’re trying to have a productive dialogue, it’s very unwieldy.

What are some practical tips for video-meeting participants?

One of the mistakes that I see people make is they ignore how they show up whenever they are speaking on webcam. And there are a couple of things that you should definitely be attending to. It’s not a matter of vanity. It’s a matter of being respectful of your conversation partner. If your face is in shadow or your audio is really crackly, it’s the equivalent of forcing somebody to have a phone call with you when the connection is bad.

You want to make sure that you can communicate effectively in full. First of all, ensure that your background is uncluttered and nondistracting. Make sure that you don’t have anything behind you that would reveal something about you that you wouldn’t want revealed, but also that could potentially pull focus. Anything that distracts will detract from your message.

The second thing I would focus on is lighting your face. Facial expressions are so critical in conveying your message, so make sure that people can easily read them.

The third thing I would consider is your audio. Record yourself on a video call so you can hear how your audio sounds, or hop on a call with a trusted colleague or friend who will tell you how you sound. Don’t just rely on the built-in microphone on your laptop. Oftentimes, they don’t have clear audio fidelity.

Consider your camera position: you want your camera at eye level. A lot of times, people are using the webcam that’s embedded in their laptop, and they keep it down on their desk or down on the table, and they appear to be looking down. Whenever you look down, it’s like you’re looking down on the person you’re having the conversation with. We would never do that in a face-to-face conversation. You don’t want to do that in a virtual setting. If you’re using a laptop, elevate it. Put it on a stack of books or on a box. If you have an external webcam, stick it on a tripod, and then you can adjust the height based on what works in your space. And then ensure that you are squarely framed, meaning that you have a little bit of space between the top of your head and on either side of your shoulders.

Why is eye contact important during virtual meetings?

This is always a challenge for people in a virtual setting. If you want to speak with impact, you need to be looking primarily at the camera lens. Now this will go against every natural impulse that you have, because the majority of us want to make eye contact with our conversation partners. And typically, they’re on the screen. But guess what? The camera is not embedded in the screen, so you need to actually look at the camera lens, or else you’ll look like you’re looking down or looking in a place that is not into the eyes of your conversation partner.

As the speaker, you spend less time looking at the listener than the listener does looking at the speaker. You want to interact with the camera as if you are with a person face-to-face. So primarily you’re pouring energy through the camera lens, but you are not staring into it.

Engage with participants

What’s your advice for virtual-meeting leaders?

Proactive facilitation is critical in any virtual meeting because there’s a lot of stilted and stunted conversation. People don’t know when it’s their turn to talk. I advocate cold calling with good intention, meaning call on people by name to let them know, “OK, you have the floor.”

You can look for nonverbal cues that might indicate that somebody has something to say. If somebody leans toward the camera, that’s usually an indication that they have something they want to add. If somebody unmutes themselves, I will say, “Hey, Justine, it looks like you have something to say.” And maybe they say, “No, I don’t have anything to say.” But I’d rather have you err on that side than just have a period where nobody is responding and you don’t engage in dialogue.

The chat feature is a great functionality for many platforms, especially if you have a larger meeting, or if you are dealing with a global team. We have to start rethinking what we consider to be participation. In a large video meeting, it can be really daunting to get the gumption to speak up. Folks might find it much easier to put their participation in the form of text. The challenge is for the leader to take a look at that chat and incorporate that into the verbal conversation.

What surprised you most throughout your research?

The genesis of the book came from a webinar that I did with my coauthor Dr. Joseph Allen, who is a meeting scientist. We were talking about the future of the modern meeting, postulating that three, five, ten years out, virtual meetings were going to become a big part of how we do business, and that video would be at their core.

That was the first week of March of 2020. Think about what happened the second week of March 2020. Everything went haywire. We were suddenly all on these video-collaboration platforms. The exponential adoption of video-collaboration tools was really surprising to me in terms of how quickly people said, “Yes, we need to use these.”

Will virtual meetings stick around?

All trends indicate that we will be in a hybrid situation for the foreseeable future. Some folks are very anxious to come back to the brick-and-mortar office. Other folks are saying, “This remote work is really working for me.”

You have to be able to figure out how to handle a hybrid meeting where you have three people in a co-located conference room here, three people in a co-located conference room there, and then five people joining on an individual webcam. And the challenge for the meeting leader is to figure out how to get everybody to talk to each other.

Source: McKinsey.com, October 2021
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Cultivating an agile culture in a virtual environment

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on september 18th, 2021 by admin

How will you maintain your Agile culture while everyone is remote and distributed?

Imagine a flashback in your digital life – the year is 2001. Netflix is still mailing DVDs, Google is just getting started, and Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook don’t exist. Only 50% of people in the United States have cell phones, and the iPhone is still six years away.

Woman on video call on laptop

At this time, 17 software developers met in Snowbird, Utah, to create what they called the Agile Manifesto, a set of values and principles outlining how organizations and teams can better work together to deliver business solutions. Since its advent, the Agile Manifesto’s principles have revolutionized the way people work and collaborate.

One such principle is co-location. While the benefits of teams working in the same location are numerous, from developing trust, to learning from “osmosis” (by hearing colleagues collaborating), to seeing shared progress, 2020 has forced leaders to revisit how to achieve these benefits without actually being in person.

The good news is that much has changed since the Manifesto was written.

How to Enable Virtual Co-Located Teams

The first value of the Agile Manifesto states “Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools.” However, remote Agile teams need both effective technology and tools to emulate a co-located experience. Fortunately, there are a number of options available today that are free or low cost. As a leader, it is important to ensure that your team has access to core enabling tools that facilitate work management, brainstorming, and ideation.

It’s likely your team interactions in a virtual environment are going to need some enhancements, particularly during this extended time of remote work. Here is what you should focus on first:

Virtual Agile Starter Kit

Create Your Agile Working Agreements

As teams shift to remote work, team members and companies will need to reconsider many of their working agreements. Team members will need to discuss how they want to engage using technology, such as expectations about responsiveness to messages and whether or not to always use video during video conferences.

This might mean considering whether companies provide budget for high-speed internet, efficient and ergonomically appropriate workspaces, and how to support employee childcare needs. For employees, it will likely be necessary to create some working agreements in your household on how to manage noise levels, interruptions, take breaks, and the frequency of your visits to the pantry.

Companies should also be reimagining their employee perks. Onsite gyms can become memberships to Peloton or Steezy, instead of onsite cafeterias, DoorDash or UberEats can offer alternatives. Companies can also start tracking the positive environmental impact of not having employees drive to work.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Agile also emphasizes creating a work environment that includes having fun as a way to keep teams engaged. Ice cream retrospectives, jigsaw puzzle areas, and plushy talking sticks were signature features of Silicon Valley’s Agile teams, but in today’s environment, how do you insert fun into a virtual team setting?

Try using easy to learn, team-oriented games accessible from phones, tablets, and computers such as one from Jackbox.tv. Another way to increase social interaction would be through a virtual pot luck with the team and encourage everyone to share what dish the prepared for the party. Another idea is a multi-player jigsaw game or creating a Guild in an online game like World of Warcraft. You can even invite a llama to a team meeting through Goat-to-Meeting and support a community farm. Encourage the team to offer their own ideas too.

Three Moves You Can Make Tomorrow

Agile can and will work in a virtually distributed environment. Here are three steps you can take to shift your team in this direction:

  1. Create your Agile technology stack: Check in with your team and make sure they have all the necessary tools to effectively work remotely. This means making sure your people not only have the right technology, but are also set up from an ergonomic perspective. Investing in keyboards, chairs, and lighting can create big returns in productivity for your people.
  2. Enable your team’s Working Agreements: Set aside time to create Working Agreements within the team on how you will engage with each other and technology. Be sure to set expectations on what you will be doing when and how frequently you will be doing it. Then, take these agreements and lead the charge on living these values.
  3. Lastly and most importantly don’t forget the fun! Invest in culture initiatives that make a difference for your people – whether it’s home exercise, meal delivery, or facilitated coworker bonding, ensure your culture remains intact and strong as you shift away from face-to-face.

The shift to remote working has already occurred in most organizations. But maintaining an Agile way of working while physically separated is a new challenge that organizations must face. Through the proper planning, communication, and working agreements, your organization can get ahead of the curve by maintaining your Agile way of working, even while virtual.

 

Source: BTS.com, September 2020
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Teamwork at the top

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Fact Based Management, Leadership / Ledarskap on juli 29th, 2021 by admin

Creating an effective top team starts with behavioral improvement and teamwork in leadership.

The popular business press on both sides of the Atlantic is infatuated with chief executive officers who have drunk from the Holy Grail of heroic leadership. To be sure, a single person can make a difference at times, but even such heroic CEOs as General Electric’s Jack Welch emphasize the power of team leadership in action. As Welch himself said, “We’ve developed an incredibly talented team of people running our major businesses, and, perhaps more important, there’s a healthy sense of collegiality, mutual trust, and respect for performance that pervades this organization.”

Increasingly, the top team is essential to the success of the enterprise. Indeed, Welch is celebrated not only for increasing GE’s revenues nearly sevenfold in his 20-year tenure but also for building one of the world’s strongest executive talent portfolios, which has provided new leadership for many Fortune 500 companies besides GE.

So despite the obsessions of the business press, senior executives, shareholders, and boards of directors question the myth of heroic leadership. Merely bringing in a new CEO to reshape an organization will tend to show mixed results. In reality, long-term success depends on the whole leadership team, for it has a broader and deeper reach into the organization than the CEO does, and its performance has a multiplier effect: a poorly performing team breeds competing agendas and turf politics; a high-performing one, organizational coherence and focus.

Often, however, the leadership team is at best a collection of strong individuals who sometimes work at cross-purposes. What does it take for senior managers to gel as a team? Our work with more than a score of top teams, involving upward of 500 executives in diverse private- and public-sector organizations, suggests a straightforward process for enhancing their performance.

The most effective teams, focusing initially on working together, get early results in their efforts to deal with important business issues and then reflect together on the manner in which they did so, thus discovering how to function as a team. Formal team-building retreats are rare; behavioral interventions and facilitated workshops, though sometimes helpful, are not central to the effort of team building. Top teams address business performance issues directly but behavioral issues only indirectly and after the event.

A second myth of leadership, as pervasive as the myth of the heroic CEO, is the idea that seasoned managers slotted into an organizational chart can easily function as a team. In reality, top teams face many problems: finding the right people, matching the available skills to the job, and learning to work together without taking the time to craft roles. Teams don’t magically coalesce overnight. Their members have to be close in the professional rather than personal sense; they can thrive in an atmosphere of conflict if it is managed to increase creative output and to catalyze change. Becoming a top-performing top team must be one of the team’s goals.

To meet that goal, teams have to master three dimensions of performance. First, they require a common direction: a shared understanding of goals and values. Second, skills of interaction are crucial if the team is to go beyond individual expertise to solve complex problems and, equally, if it is to withstand the scrutiny of the rest of the organization, for people usually take their cues from the top. Finally, top teams must always be able to renew themselves—to expand their capabilities in response to change.

One reason for the difficulty of improving a team’s performance is that interaction, direction, and renewal are interdependent—teams need to go forward simultaneously on all three fronts to make real progress. It isn’t surprising, for instance, that top teams interact poorly when they don’t have a common direction. By contrast, enhanced performance in one dimension not only reinforces the improvement in others but also provides for the genuine personal development that builds success.

Suppose, for example, the team believes that it must build trust among its members. It rarely helps to have self-conscious discussions or “sharing” exercises about keeping or breaching trust, an approach that may actually be quite destructive. But by working together to sharpen the sense of strategic direction—and in this way experiencing successful interactions—the team can indirectly, but often dramatically, improve its effectiveness and thus the feeling of trust among its members. In effect, the team exploits its strong reasoning abilities to build trust.

Identifying real problems

Tolstoy wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The same can be said of underperforming teams. Nonetheless, there are typical warning signs in each of the three dimensions of team performance.

Confused direction

Many CEOs assume that they and their top teams share a common understanding of corporate goals and values. Formal descriptions of roles, expected conduct, and corporate strategies and plans all reinforce this assumption, but several realities undermine it.

Lack of alignment. Executives may nod their heads when the CEO propounds a vision, but the team often lacks a shared view of how to implement it. At one well-known energy company, the five executives of a top team were asked to list the company’s 10 highest priorities. Alarmingly, they listed a total of 23 priorities; only 2 appeared on every executive’s list and only 7 on the lists of more than three members; indeed 13 of the 23 priorities appeared on only one list. In other cases, the team doesn’t agree about how performance should be assessed, who the company’s top performers are, or how to motivate the organization to achieve its stated objectives.

Lack of deep understanding. In some cases, the top team agrees on plans, but subsequent actions are inconsistent with its decisions. This problem reflects the tendency of top teams to focus on making decisions without examining the assumptions, the criteria, and the rationales behind them.

Lack of strategic focus. Top teams without a common direction spend more time on business as usual and on “fire fighting” than on seeking out and doing the work only they can do—work that is important to the organization and gives the team as a whole an opportunity to add value. A focused team concentrates on developing talent within the organization and on driving major growth initiatives; an unfocused team second-guesses line-management decisions, reruns analyses, and immerses itself in detail. Half of the executives we interviewed believed that they failed to add value in much of their work.

Ineffective interaction

Many management teams pay lip service to the importance of interaction but foster a working style that inhibits candid communication and collaboration.

Poor dialogue. Although the members of a team may spend much time talking to one another, they can often fail to communicate, by withholding vital information, suppressing critical opinions, or accepting questionable strategies out of fear of retaliation. These games lead not only to frustration but also to hidden agendas—problems that may stem from mistrust if individual team members don’t know one another or organizational units have a history of conflict. According to 65 percent of the respondents in our top-team database, trust was a real issue for their teams.

Dysfunctional behavior. Often the most serious result of poor dialogue is an inability to capitalize on diverse viewpoints and backgrounds, thus reducing the team’s ability to work creatively and adapt to changes in the market. And like any group of people, top teams can fall into destructive practices—for instance, the public humiliation of team members. Such behavior understandably creates fear and defensiveness and can intensify problems by isolating and scapegoating individual team members. Because the top team’s conduct is mimicked lower down in the organization, this kind of behavior can come to pervade it.

An inability to renew

Although many top teams recognize the importance of organizational renewal, few of them institute processes that revitalize effort and commitment. Three problems can make it hard for members of a team to step back and honestly assess their own performance. These problems often have their origin in the team members’ experience as middle managers. Most executives have climbed functional silos and are accustomed to defending their organizational turf. It is often difficult for such people to make the leap to broad strategic issues that have a bottom-line impact. Frequently, executives also can’t adapt their leadership style to life at the top, where interactions tend to be shorter, more frequent, less prepared, and aimed at a wider and more diverse audience.

Personal dissatisfaction. Many team members, despite their apparently successful careers and enviable positions, have become frustrated or insufficiently challenged by their work. A quarter of our respondents said that their jobs didn’t stretch them. Collectively and individually, team members ignore new sources of insight, information, and experience that could push them out of their comfort zone. The teams we have observed engaging in destructive politics usually discourage their members from assuming new roles or taking risks. As a result, these executives ultimately become bored, and their performance declines; hence, the typical CEO complaint that once-solid team members no longer energize others or adapt to changing needs.

Insularity. Top teams rarely pay enough attention to information from outside their companies or industries—information that, digested quickly, could influence key strategic and organizational decisions. In addition, top teams seldom make the time to reflect on the information they do receive and to assess its future impact. Lacking structured processes to receive and reflect upon information from external sources, most teams don’t find the time to generate a real strategic focus.

Deficient individual skills. Most companies give the members of their top teams little mentoring or coaching about how to effect change. Unlike middle managers, who frequently get broad training and coaching, senior managers usually work without a safety net and, frequently, without a second chance. Among the executives we surveyed, 80 percent believed that they had the necessary skills to fulfill their role, but only 30 percent believed that all of their colleagues did.

Becoming a top team

How can a company set about improving the performance of its top team? Our research points to some useful strategies for promoting effective action, reflection, and cohesion.

How it works

Many behavioral team-improvement efforts fail because they don’t speak to the needs of top managers: programmed exercises, for instance, seem artificial. Our work with top teams suggests four ways to build their performance by replicating the way senior executives actually work together.

1. Address a number of initiatives concurrently. The top team must focus on the most pressing issues—work that only it can do. Achieving tangible outcomes in a variety of management challenges is essential. The activities most likely to foster team action and reflection include framing strategy, managing performance, managing stakeholders, and reviewing top talent. The team really needs to do these things whether or not its members are attempting to improve their own performance as a team. The action element of the cycle improves the direction of the organization and its ability to renew itself, while reflection makes it possible for teams to discover ways of improving their interaction.

2. Channel the team’s discontent. Only 20 percent of the executives we surveyed thought their team was a high-performing one. Successful teams invite external challenges, focus on competitive threats, and judge themselves by best practice, since comparisons with industry leaders or key competitors raise the quality of debate by putting facts on the table.

3. Minimize outside intrusions. It is hard for a team to execute an improvement process by itself; some form of facilitation is usually required. Consultants or coaches should observe top teams at work rather than lead meetings or presentations. They should never try to direct the team’s work. Finally, they should ensure that real work dominates the improvement process. Teams must discover what is effective for them. Merely telling a team the solution to its problems reinforces the poor quality of its alignment and interaction.

4. Encourage inquiry and reflection. More than 80 percent of the executives we surveyed said that they didn’t set aside enough time for analyzing the root causes of problems. These executives believe that instead of developing rules of thumb slowly and subconsciously, they should use their business experience to draw lessons. Most senior business executives took a decade or more to develop their business judgment, but with the tenure of CEOs becoming shorter as investors’ expectations rise, most top teams just cannot wait years to improve their performance. Facilitating team cycles of action and reflection—accelerating the pace of change and making the process of discovery explicit—can have a significant effect in as quickly as three months.

What it looks like

On the face of it, a top team going through the performance improvement process resembles any other top team at work. As usual, CEOs and senior executives address a number of strands of business, but they focus on major strategic issues and work together as colleagues rather than delegate tasks to staffers, consultants, or individual team members. At a minimum, the entire top team should spend one day each month together, without staffers, doing real work as a team. Subgroups of two or three members should work together a couple of times a week on every issue the team is addressing and should probably spend some time with a facilitator as well.

Teams rarely manage to improve their performance wholly outside their active working environment, so short-term workshops, no matter how attractive the setting or how heart-felt and candid the members’ exchanges may be, aren’t likely to change their mode of working. Structured self-discovery and reflection must be combined with decision making and action in the real world; the constant interplay among these elements over time is what creates lasting change.

Why it works

Teamwork is a pragmatic enterprise that grows from tangible achievements. The action-reflection cycle—supported by improved direction, interaction, and renewal—complements the work style of most senior teams. First, this approach pushes them to address their own performance just as directly and forcefully as they would address other business performance issues. By doing real work on important problems and applying business judgment to reflect on that work, top teams jump-start their performance and satisfy their need for visible progress.

Second, taking an oblique approach to sensitive performance issues allows top teams to address their behavior after the event, without personal confrontations. Team members discover that alternative points of view are valid, that the CEO doesn’t have all the ideas the company needs for success, and that the team can be both challenging and supportive at the same time. This paradoxical combination—the indirect assessment of team behavior through direct work on critical issues—allows top teams to manage their own performance. Before investing time and resources in programs to build the top team, leaders should ensure that such efforts deal with its real work.

Teams must assess their own performance regularly and honestly. Every senior team should also dedicate several working sessions a year to issues—such as technology, changing demographics, political and environmental pressures, and emerging themes from management literature—that have little bearing on the next quarter but could reshape the enterprise and the team itself during the next five years. Teams should also explore unexpected successes and interesting failures inside and outside their organizations. They ought to travel, both physically and intellectually, outside their own regions and industries to companies that have tackled challenges similar to their own.

In doing all this, teams should pay attention to the consistency of their leadership, the quality of their interaction, and their opportunities for renewal. They must also build into their work processes ample time to reflect on the deeper causes of problems, on the areas where they can add the most value as a team, and on the quality of their past decisions. It is the process of discovering the best way for the members of the team to work together that ensures the absorption of basic behavioral lessons.

The prize for building effective top teams is clear: they develop better strategies, perform more consistently, and increase the confidence of stakeholders. They get positive results—and make the work itself a more positive experience both for the team’s members and for the people they lead.

 

Source: McKinsey.com
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High-performing teams: A timeless leadership topic

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on juli 19th, 2021 by admin
CEOs and senior executives can employ proven techniques to create top-team performance.

The value of a high-performing team has long been recognized. It’s why savvy investors in start-ups often value the quality of the team and the interaction of the founding members more than the idea itself. It’s why 90 percent of investors think the quality of the management team is the single most important nonfinancial factor when evaluating an IPO. And it’s why there is a 1.9 times increased likelihood of having above-median financial performance when the top team is working together toward a common vision. “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team,” is the way Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn cofounder, sums it up. Basketball legend Michael Jordan slam dunks the same point: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”

The topic’s importance is not about to diminish as digital technology reshapes the notion of the workplace and how work gets done. On the contrary, the leadership role becomes increasingly demanding as more work is conducted remotely, traditional company boundaries become more porous, freelancers more commonplace, and partnerships more necessary. And while technology will solve a number of the resulting operational issues, technological capabilities soon become commoditized.

Building a team remains as tough as ever. Energetic, ambitious, and capable people are always a plus, but they often represent different functions, products, lines of business, or geographies and can vie for influence, resources, and promotion. Not surprisingly then, top-team performance is a timeless business preoccupation. (See sidebar “Cutting through the clutter of management advice,” which lists top-team performance as one of the top ten business topics of the past 40 years, as discussed in our book, Leading Organizations: Ten Timeless Truths.)

Amid the myriad sources of advice on how to build a top team, here are some ideas around team composition and team dynamics that, in our experience, have long proved their worth.

Team composition

Team composition is the starting point. The team needs to be kept small—but not too small—and it’s important that the structure of the organization doesn’t dictate the team’s membership. A small top team—fewer than six, say—is likely to result in poorer decisions because of a lack of diversity, and slower decision making because of a lack of bandwidth. A small team also hampers succession planning, as there are fewer people to choose from and arguably more internal competition. Research also suggests that the team’s effectiveness starts to diminish if there are more than ten people on it. Sub-teams start to form, encouraging divisive behavior. Although a congenial, “here for the team” face is presented in team meetings, outside of them there will likely be much maneuvering. Bigger teams also undermine ownership of group decisions, as there isn’t time for everyone to be heard.

Beyond team size, CEOs should consider what complementary skills and attitudes each team member brings to the table. Do they recognize the improvement opportunities? Do they feel accountable for the entire company’s success, not just their own business area? Do they have the energy to persevere if the going gets tough? Are they good role models? When CEOs ask these questions, they often realize how they’ve allowed themselves to be held hostage by individual stars who aren’t team players, how they’ve become overly inclusive to avoid conflict, or how they’ve been saddled with team members who once were good enough but now don’t make the grade. Slighting some senior executives who aren’t selected may be unavoidable if the goal is better, faster decisions, executed with commitment.

Of course, large organizations often can’t limit the top team to just ten or fewer members. There is too much complexity to manage and too much work to be done. The CEO of a global insurance company found himself with 18 direct reports spread around the globe who, on their videoconference meetings, could rarely discuss any single subject for more than 30 minutes because of the size of the agenda. He therefore formed three top teams, one that focused on strategy and the long-term health of the company, another that handled shorter-term performance and operational issues, and a third that tended to a number of governance, policy, and people-related issues. Some executives, including the CEO, sat on each. Others were only on one. And some team members chosen weren’t even direct reports but from the next level of management down, as the CEO recognized the importance of having the right expertise in the room, introducing new people with new ideas, and coaching the next generation of leaders.

Team dynamics

It’s one thing to get the right team composition. But only when people start working together does the character of the team itself begin to be revealed, shaped by team dynamics that enable it to achieve either great things or, more commonly, mediocrity.

Consider the 1992 roster of the US men’s Olympic basketball team, which had some of the greatest players in the history of the sport, among them Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, and Scottie Pippen. Merely bringing together these players didn’t guarantee success. During their first month of practice, indeed, the “Dream Team” lost to a group of college players by eight points in a scrimmage. “We didn’t know how to play with each other,” Scottie Pippen said after the defeat. They adjusted, and the rest is history. The team not only won the 1992 Olympic gold but also dominated the competition, scoring over 100 points in every game.

What is it that makes the difference between a team of all stars and an all-star team? Over the past decade, we’ve asked more than 5,000 executives to think about their “peak experience” as a team member and to write down the word or words that describe that environment. The results are remarkably consistent and reveal three key dimensions of great teamwork. The first is alignment on direction, where there is a shared belief about what the company is striving toward and the role of the team in getting there. The second is high-quality interaction, characterized by trust, open communication, and a willingness to embrace conflict. The third is a strong sense of renewal, meaning an environment in which team members are energized because they feel they can take risks, innovate, learn from outside ideas, and achieve something that matters—often against the odds.

So the next question is, how can you re-create these same conditions in every top team?

Getting started

The starting point is to gauge where the team stands on these three dimensions, typically through a combination of surveys and interviews with the team, those who report to it, and other relevant stakeholders. Such objectivity is critical because team members often fail to recognize the role they themselves might be playing in a dysfunctional team.

While some teams have more work to do than others, most will benefit from a program that purposefully mixes offsite workshops with on-the-job practice. Offsite workshops typically take place over two or more days. They build the team first by doing real work together and making important business decisions, then taking the time to reflect on team dynamics.

The choice of which problems to tackle is important. One of the most common complaints voiced by members of low-performing teams is that too much time is spent in meetings. In our experience, however, the real issue is not the time but the content of meetings. Top-team meetings should address only those topics that need the team’s collective, cross-boundary expertise, such as corporate strategy, enterprise-resource allocation, or how to capture synergies across business units. They need to steer clear of anything that can be handled by individual businesses or functions, not only to use the top team’s time well but to foster a sense of purpose too.

The reflective sessions concentrate not on the business problem per se, but on how the team worked together to address it. For example, did team members feel aligned on what they were trying to achieve? Did they feel excited about the conclusions reached? If not, why? Did they feel as if they brought out the best in one another? Trust deepens regardless of the answers. It is the openness that matters. Team members often become aware of the unintended consequences of their behavior. And appreciation builds of each team member’s value to the team, and of how diversity of opinion need not end in conflict. Rather, it can lead to better decisions.

Many teams benefit from having an impartial observer in their initial sessions to help identify and improve team dynamics. An observer can, for example, point out when discussion in the working session strays into low-value territory. We’ve seen top teams spend more time deciding what should be served for breakfast at an upcoming conference than the real substance of the agenda (see sidebar “The ‘bike-shed effect,’ a common pitfall for team effectiveness”). One CEO, speaking for five times longer than other team members, was shocked to be told he was blocking discussion. And one team of nine that professed to being aligned with the company’s top 3 priorities listed no fewer than 15 between them when challenged to write them down.

Back in the office

Periodic offsite sessions will not permanently reset a team’s dynamics. Rather, they help build the mind-sets and habits that team members need to first observe then to regulate their behavior when back in the office. Committing to a handful of practices can help. For example, one Latin American mining company we know agreed to the following:

  • A “yellow card,” which everyone carried and which could be produced to safely call out one another on unproductive behavior and provide constructive feedback, for example, if someone was putting the needs of his or her business unit over those of the company, or if dialogue was being shut down. Some team members feared the system would become annoying, but soon recognized its power to check unhelpful behavior.
  • An electronic polling system during discussions to gauge the pulse of the room efficiently (or, as one team member put it, “to let us all speak at once”), and to avoid group thinking. It also proved useful in halting overly detailed conversations and refocusing the group on the decision at hand.
  • A rule that no more than three PowerPoint slides could be shared in the room so as to maximize discussion time. (Brief pre-reads were permitted.)

After a few months of consciously practicing the new behavior in the workplace, a team typically reconvenes offsite to hold another round of work and reflection sessions. The format and content will differ depending on progress made. For example, one North American industrial company that felt it was lacking a sense of renewal convened its second offsite in Silicon Valley, where the team immersed itself in learning about innovation from start-ups and other cutting-edge companies. How frequently these offsites are needed will differ from team to team. But over time, the new behavior will take root, and team members will become aware of team dynamics in their everyday work and address them as required.

In our experience, those who make a concerted effort to build a high-performing team can do so well within a year, even when starting from a low base. The initial assessment of team dynamics at an Australian bank revealed that team members had resorted to avoiding one another as much as possible to avoid confrontation, though unsurprisingly the consequences of the unspoken friction were highly visible. Other employees perceived team members as insecure, sometimes even encouraging a view that their division was under siege. Nine months later, team dynamics were unrecognizable. “We’ve come light years in a matter of months. I can’t imaging going back to the way things were,” was the CEO’s verdict. The biggest difference? “We now speak with one voice.”


Hard as you might try at the outset to compose the best team with the right mix of skills and attitudes, creating an environment in which the team can excel will likely mean changes in composition as the dynamics of the team develop. CEOs and other senior executives may find that some of those they felt were sure bets at the beginning are those who have to go. Other less certain candidates might blossom during the journey.

There is no avoiding the time and energy required to build a high-performing team. Yet our research suggests that executives are five times more productive when working in one than they are in an average one. CEOs and other senior executives should feel reassured, therefore, that the investment will be worth the effort. The business case for building a dream team is strong, and the techniques for building one proven.

 

Source: McKinsey.com
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Hur kommer distansarbetet att utvecklas framöver?

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Digitalisering / Internet, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on mars 22nd, 2021 by admin

Microsofts Vivachef: De anställdas upplevelse av distansarbete blir en ledningsfråga

Ungefär fyra av fem företag (78 procent) ser det som en utmaning att stödja distansarbetare under de närmaste två åren, enligt 451 Research. De svåraste utmaningarna är att skapa balans mellan arbete och privatliv, att förse de anställda med rätt teknik, att hålla arbetsmoralen i gruppen uppe och att kunna behålla kompetensen.

Läs mer här.

Eight lessons on how to get the growth you planned

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete on december 4th, 2020 by admin

Now is not the time to slow down. Growth initiatives are critical for value creation, even survival, throughout an economic cycle.

Maintaining focus on the growth agenda, especially during a downturn, is no easy feat, however. For growth initiatives to deliver lasting gains, they require a clear aspiration, organization-wide alignment, and careful monitoring. When we reviewed 60 recent growth transformations—intense, company-wide programs aimed at enhancing overall corporate performance—we found that more than half failed to meet their targets. So we looked for the biggest pitfalls that tripped up promising projects and the key elements that contributed to others’ success. Our analysis reveals eight lessons that companies looking to reignite growth should apply.

  1. Set targets high enough to compensate for declining momentum in the base business and inevitable setbacksAs we noted in our earlier research, the growth aspiration that leaders set matters a great deal to the shareholder value those efforts generate. Companies whose growth outperformed others throughout the 2007–2017 cycle achieved excess total returns to shareholders (TRS) of 8 percent, while the rest hovered around zero during the period. Yet many companies venture on what they believe to be ambitious programs only to find the results fail to change the growth trajectory of their overall business. Why? The reason often lies in overly optimistic baseline scenarios and a lack of detailed understanding of the business momentum. Over time, competitive activity, shifts in sales channels, product commoditization, and other market factors can erode revenue in the base business. Without a granular view of that underlying business, bold plans, even if executed well, can be undermined by leakage in the base. To produce incremental growth, the targets and priorities leaders set for the growth program need to accurately reflect the business’s momentum and compensate for this natural attrition.Consider the experience of a technology player looking to turn around declining revenues. About a year into its growth transformation, the program had produced an impressive 8 percent in new revenues—yet the company’s total sales continued to decline. The leaders realized that the downward sales trend in other parts of its business exceeded the gains made through the new growth initiatives. The company ended up resetting its targets to take into account the trajectory of its base business based on more accurate market forecasts.

    Companies also need to be realistic about their likelihood of success. All growth initiatives face the intrinsic risk of new competitors or changes in customer behavior shifting the market dynamics, and some efforts are bound to underdeliver or fail altogether. In the growth transformations we reviewed, the success rate ranged between 50 to 70 percent. To offset the likely setbacks, companies should create a pipeline of initiatives that adds up to 130 to 150 percent of the growth ambition. Leaders should also foster an entrepreneurial spirit and not punish failure due to factors beyond project managers’ control.

  2. Define a few growth themes and ensure the entire organization embraces themBefore launching growth transformations, many companies extensively review and update their strategic priorities. This typically entails analyses of market trends, category and product performance, and competitive activities. In studying the practices of growth outperformers, we found these companies go beyond the core and look into potential moves involving geography, market adjacency, and value chain to set their priorities and aspirations.The result should be a set of four to six clearly defined priority growth themes that cover all potential growth levers. That could mean expanding offerings by entering into new product categories or introducing new services, and expanding segments the company pursues by deepening penetration into existing markets or focusing on micromarkets. Defending the existing customer base (through the acquisition of new accounts, churn reduction, and cross-sell) also needs to be part of the mix, as does innovation in products and business models. Improving sales performance management or customer experience and even M&A or partnerships all could be part of the growth recipe. It’s essential that the organization can act on the growth themes within 12 to 18 months and that their achievement be hardwired into incentives for business leaders.

    In our experience, cascading these priority themes down through the organization is as important as the strategic review that produces them. The failure to communicate and ensure organization-wide alignment on the desired direction hobbled the growth program at one industrial company. The leaders had spent significant time developing what they believed to be clear strategic priorities, yet growth failed to materialize. There were two problems, it turned out: the priorities were too numerous for the organization to address with focus and scale, and regional business leaders found them disconnected from near-term opportunities for their units. A subsequent mapping of the hundreds of regional initiatives against the corporate priorities demonstrated that some units pursued growth projects tailored to their specific markets rather than the company’s chosen themes, and those local opportunities were in turn not supported by the corporate programs, diminishing the potential to leverage the company’s global scale.

  3. Protect the margin of your base business while focusing growth on high-margin targetsA growth aspiration sometimes ends up becoming a push for volume at the expense of margin. Sales teams may present “opportunities” that essentially mean lowering prices or focusing on lower-margin offerings to reach more customers—recipes that rarely deliver profitable growth. This risk is particularly acute in companies that lack strict pricing and margin controls. Perhaps counterintuitively, raising margin targets when setting the aspiration for the growth transformation can help deliver the desired results. This requires leaders to identify initiatives that combine volume growth and pricing levers within sales. More broadly, they should pursue ideas that are both growth- and margin-accretive, such as business-model innovations or expansion into high-margin, high-growth markets.When an international agricultural company asked its various units to develop growth plans, for example, it found the country organizations were reluctant to launch pricing-related initiatives alongside revenue-growth efforts for fear this would limit their sales opportunities. Management also realized the organization lacked the pricing systems, processes, and governance needed to avoid margin erosion as business units strove to deliver top-line growth. To address these shortcomings, the company developed a pricing tool through which it could challenge each national organization on its (net) prices at the product level and intervene when it found them offtrack. The new tool not only delivered a 1 percent improvement in earnings before interest and tax, but ensured the revenue growth achieved by the business units did not erode margins.
  4. Make line managers accountable for designing and implementing growth programsOur analysis of successful growth transformations suggests that having a critical mass of employees involved in their design and execution makes a big difference. Companies that score in the top quartile of growth performance mobilized at least 8 percent of their workforce to drive the initiatives. Some top performers deployed 20 percent of staff or more.Additionally, for growth gains to be sustainable, local leaders need to be accountable for their targets—they should “own” their parts of the program. As such, management should empower them to develop portfolios of initiatives (within the corporate growth themes) that are customized for their businesses or regional contexts and are projected to deliver 130 to 150 percent of their ultimate growth target (in line with our point in the first lesson). Line managers—the individuals who know the offerings and the customers best—should then lead the initiatives, not external project managers who lack a long-term stake in the business. Which function these internal leaders come from would depend on whether the initiatives are related to go-to-market strategy, innovation, product development, or inorganic moves.

    Some growth opportunities require establishing or improving cross-functional collaboration. As the chief growth officer of one leading consumer packaged-goods company put it, “Product, engineering, and sales [should] take decisions jointly, so you don’t have fingers pointing at each other.” For example, a food ingredient player noticed the lack of short-term alignment between operations and sales which, as at many organizations, were separate functions. A shortage of customer orders at specific moments led to sizable productivity losses due to production stops and slowdowns. Unlocking growth required making sales and operations jointly accountable for the objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs), and milestones set for different team members.

  5. Fund growth by reallocating resources and reinvesting gainsAsking business unit leaders to come up with growth ideas will inevitably lead to requests for additional resources for sales, marketing, and technology. An ambitious growth transformation does require proper funding, but it should be guided by a structured process of resource reallocation. Often, existing allocations are due more to past performance than future growth potential. Consider instead asking each unit leader to free up 20 to 30 percent of resources from their existing budgets and separate the savings and the gains from earlier initiatives when reallocating these resources to growth programs. Making resource reallocation a mandatory exercise before committing any additional funding forces everyone to invest in their own success.Wherever the resources come from, top leadership needs to communicate early how much funding will be provided to support growth initiatives and how the decisions about its allocation will be made. Setting expectations for new funds and then failing to deliver them can be a major blow to the transformation effort’s credibility and the organization’s commitment to its execution.
  6. Create implementation plans with clear milestonesMcKinsey’s research on organizational transformations suggests that shorter initiatives tend to produce better results. In that study, we found that successful transformations delivered close to a third of the transformation value within the first three months and approximately 75 percent in the first year. Our research into growth transformations found a similar trend: shorter initiatives have higher success rates. Moreover, early successes are important accelerators of the entire transformation.Yet many growth programs are designed to last multiple years. What’s more, they often rely on high-level plans short on detailed proximate goals and expectations. Designing a growth program with specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timebound milestones can enable leaders to address execution bottlenecks in a timely manner. This requires setting milestones based on weeks rather than months or years.

    It can be useful to test the larger program with a limited-time pilot. One electronics player that was working on a new direct-to-consumer proposition it expected to become a sizable business first spent six months running a small-scale study with select users to develop and test the proposition. The lessons at each step of the project helped the company fine-tune the expectations for subsequent milestones while the multiyear road map kept the project firmly on its path.

  7. Continuously prune and replenish the pipeline of initiativesIdeate, refine, renew, and repeat is a cycle that never stops, when done well. Our earlier research on organizational transformations shows that companies in the top quartile restocked their initiative pipeline by 70 percent after the first year, often compensating for initiatives that had been canceled. Maintaining such a healthy pipeline of growth projects, however, requires that companies adopt a rapid-learning approach.Continuously monitoring progress and pruning underperforming initiatives allows scarce sales and marketing resources to be redistributed to more promising efforts—and the faster that is done, the better. As for generating new growth ideas, networks of champions for each of the priority themes can be great sources for pipeline renewal: they can share lessons and success stories across regions and business units, often without the involvement of senior management.
  8. Measure and incentivize performance at multiple levels to focus interventions where they are needed mostManaging a growth transformation requires tracking numerous performance dimensions, from market demand to the competitive landscape to the progress of the initiatives themselves—factors that are both within and outside the management’s control. Performance management should include financial metrics as well as operational and leading KPIs. Many of these will be interrelated, and leaders should determine which are best managed at which level of the organization to create the right incentives and enable timely intervention. At a minimum, growth performance management should cover three levels:
    • Overall corporate goals. The top leadership team needs to understand how the growth transformation is driving the company’s top line. Connecting the growth project’s impact to the actual (or forecasted) revenues can reveal influences outside the initiatives’ parameters, such as foreign-exchange effects or sales declines in parts of the business not targeted by the growth transformation.
    • Growth transformation targets. Leaders of the transformation should track execution progress, operational KPIs, and financial impact for each initiative within the program. Creating a performance-management dashboard to monitor these metrics can enable them to address execution problems and redesign or even terminate initiatives quickly.
    • Functional performance. Take sales as an example. Companies whose sales organizations outperform their peers consistently excel in two capabilities: frontline execution through standardized performance management and analytics-driven opportunity identification and prioritization. These sales leaders are three times as effective and twice as efficient (based on gross margin to sales cost) as the median. Sales management should provide a single source of truth on forward- and backward-looking sales performance as compared to targets (such as order book and funnel) and incorporate this into frequent sales-performance dialogues so the insights the metrics reveal are translated into frontline action. The performance of other functions critical to reaching the growth aspiration, such as marketing, innovation, or corporate development, should have similar growth targets and analytics integrated into their performance measurement.

Delivering the growth your strategy calls for is a complex and challenging endeavor for most organizations, particularly during a downturn. To ensure the results meet the aspirations, companies can lean on the experiences of others to guide their targets and approaches to execution. While the temptation to wait for the current crisis to pass may be strong, it entails the risk of falling behind competitors who adopt a through-cycle approach to growth and emerge far ahead in the recovery.

Source: McKinsey.com, November 2020
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Talent retention and selection in M&A

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on oktober 14th, 2020 by admin
Retaining critical talent and ensuring the right people are in key roles are essential to a successful merger.

An organization is only as good as its peopleas the adage goes. At no time is that more true than during a merger integration. A deal can create an opportunity to upgrade talent across the organization; in some cases, gaining access to highly skilled employees is the primary reason for an acquisition. Conversely, mismanaging talent issues can seriously affect the success of even a relatively straightforward transaction.

Organizations undergoing a merger need to tackle two core challenges around talent: how to retain people critical to the combined company’s performance and how to manage the employee selection and appointment process in a way that causes the least disruption and anxiety. Thorough preparation and management of both processes is paramount to achieving a merger’s goals. This article presents our insights into talent issues that arise during M&A and how to handle them to foster a smooth transition.

Understand your merger archetype

Managing talent in a merger integration should not follow a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, the type of deal you pursue needs to guide how you go about employee retention and selection.

In the case of two organizations of similar size coming together in an approximate merger of equals, both the acquirer and the target company need to pay close attention to retaining key talent. This type of deal often happens during industry consolidations or when a company is trying to reinvent itself by acquiring a competitor with complementary products and customer relationships. While leadership teams tend to protect their own core cadres and corporate cultures, the focus here needs to be on keeping the people best suited to driving the combined company’s performance. Accordingly, a fair and transparent selection process is needed to avoid (real or perceived) biases or favoritism on the part of either legacy company.

When a larger, often better-performing company acquires a smaller or lower-performing firm that operates within its core business, employee selection tends to favor the acquirer’s incumbent talent. In such cases, the acquirer’s retention focus may be quite narrow, aimed at the best performers or employees deemed critical for maintaining business continuity.

In an acquisition involving the entry into a new business or market, the buyer’s talent retention focus will likely be quite different. Typically, retaining the target firm’s employees is essential to the deal’s value, and there is usually limited overlap between the target’s workforce and that of the acquiring company, aside from support functions.

Tailor your talent retention strategy

During the anxiety-filled period of merger negotiation and integration, talent deemed critical to the combined company’s future needs to receive special attention. Since talent flight can undermine performance, value creation, and both the near- and long-term success of the deal, organizations should develop talent retention plans as soon as possible—often before the acquisition is finalized.

The key steps in a talent retention program are determining its scope and approach, defining retention levers, and implementing and monitoring the results.

Determine retention scope and approach

In most merger scenarios, the vast majority of employees do not receive retention packages—typically, less than 2 percent of staff should receive such incentives. However, those few critical employees need to be identified quickly. They could have highly specialized and hard-to-access skills or knowledge vital to running the combined business (such as expertise in the legacy IT systems). They may be important for ensuring stability during the integration phase or they may be high performers essential to building the next phase of the combined organization.

For example, when a global medical device company acquired a small but fast-growing healthcare solutions firm, the target’s product innovation capabilities were a core reason for the deal. The acquirer’s CEO knew he had to move quickly to engage and retain the R&D team, so the head of the integration group promptly flew across the country to meet with the staff, reassure them about their roles in the future organization, and express the company’s enthusiasm for their product innovation plans. The integration leader also committed to ring-fencing the R&D team to allay their concerns that the multinational’s “bureaucracy” would stifle their activities. All the core innovation staff ended up remaining with the new company, with limited financial retention investment required.

It can be challenging to identify the most valuable individuals or know which ones represent a flight risk. Often, top leaders create lists of employees they feel are important to retain—a top-down approach that, being fast and simple, is well suited to mergers with short time frames and high potential for significant loss of talent. However, unless an organization had recently undertaken a talent-to-value exercise, top corporate leaders may lack a comprehensive understanding of the critical talent and roles in the company. As a result, the company may end up offering retention bonuses to too many people, some of whom do not hold essential roles, potentially causing integration cost overruns. Conversely, complex hierarchies or unconscious biases may shield top executives’ views of who really matters in the legacy company, leading to omissions in retention efforts that end up costing the combined company valuable capabilities.

A more comprehensive but time-consuming alternative is a bottom-up approach, which gathers input from multiple management tiers and combines it with other information, such as employee interviews, surveys, or social network analysis. While this provides leaders with a more detailed understanding of the talent they should try to retain—including people at lower levels of the organization—it is not always feasible given pre-close limitations on who can be engaged for input and what information the target company will provide.

A solution that balances the above two approaches is for the legacy heads of each function and the HR business partners of both organizations to nominate the 2 percent “critical talent” in each area—individuals in mission-critical roles, high performers, or those with strong future potential. The HR team can then vet the list with the CEO, the chief human resources officer (CHRO), and the integration leader to determine the need for retention incentives based on the impact and probability of each individual’s departure. (For more on identifying critical talent, see “Matching talent to value” and “Finding hidden leaders”.)

Define incentives

 

Talent-retention programs typically target critical employees the company believes it may lose with a mix of financial and nonfinancial incentives. While financial measures tend to be the first lever organizations turn to, this approach can be both expensive and often less effective than companies anticipate. Financial incentives are best used for addressing short-term needs, such as inducing a finance manager targeted for layoff to stay for a few months after merger close to help with the transition from legacy financial processes to new ones adopted by the combined company. Generally, however, organizations should lead with “soft” incentives such as praise, attention from leaders, and opportunities to take on more responsibility, all of which have proved to be more powerful at keeping talent motivated. A McKinsey survey of more than 1,400 integration executives, for example, reported that “praise and commendation from an immediate manager” was the most effective retention lever, scoring above performance-based cash bonuses and increases in base pay.

In general, incentives should be offered in waves rather than at one time, as not all essential employees will be immediately known to management. Additionally, leaders may find that some highly valued talent does not need special incentives to stay after the deal is announced.

Implement and monitor retention

Once companies have identified their critical talent and determined suitable incentive plans, they should waste no time in implementing the retention program. With financial incentives, it is usually best to conduct the program discreetly so as not to alienate those not offered incentives to stay. There is much less sensitivity around the many nonfinancial retention levers, such as opportunities to participate in training programs or invitations to lead projects, as these are common incentives or rewards for high-performing individuals. With both retention approaches, perceived fairness is critical. In particular, functional heads and HR staff need to be prepared to answer questions about the methodology and thoroughness of the process that determines which individuals receive financial bonuses.

Tracking the impact of the talent retention program is important, both as it applies to the overall workforce and employees identified as critical. Companies can use metrics such as unwanted attrition, turnover costs and employee satisfaction, and should be proactive in adapting the retention program in response to the findings. For instance, engagement surveys can deliver early alerts of declining staff morale, providing time to reengage select employees or employee groups before they decide to move on.

Selecting the right talent

Identifying the candidates for key positions in the combined company is a priority that HR leaders should start addressing even before the deal closes. From determining the selection criteria to communicating, implementing, and tracking outcomes, the decisions made at this stage will bear heavily on the integration’s success. This is particularly important in deals involving the merger of similarly sized firms as such situations require more finesse than other M&A integrations.

At a time when companies are competing for talent in a global arena, offering a positive employee experience—by enabling staff to create personalized, authentic workplaces that ignite their passion and give them purpose—is a key driver of retention, especially among millennials. Our research shows organizations that focus on employee experience as a core element of talent management have a 65 percent chance of achieving superior total returns to shareholders.

Designing, managing, and delivering a positive experience is especially important during the post-merger talent selection process—not only for employees offered positions but also for those not selected or who choose to leave. How the HR and integration teams treat the latter groups can have far-reaching effects on workplace morale and the company’s reputation as an employer of choice.

There are four core elements to ensuring that the selection process leaves a positive impression on all involved: designing a fair and transparent methodology, ensuring the process is well coordinated, managing stakeholder expectations, and effectively onboarding employees starting new positions. Most of these tasks are best handled by a central talent selection office.

 

Establish a fair and transparent process

“Will I have a job in the new organization?” During a merger, that is the primary concern of most employees, so step one in the talent selection process should be providing information. Defining how staffing choices will be made—including selection criteria, legal parameters, and timelines—and communicating this to the organization will help allay anxiety, as will an explicit commitment to fairness and transparency.

Naturally, the approach to selecting high-level executives (such as those reporting directly to the CEO) will differ from the one used for most of the workforce. While the executive selection process is often opaque to the broader organization, the outcomes send a message to all employees about the values and culture they will experience in the combined organization. For example, if the CEO only selects individuals from the acquiring company for the new management team, this may be interpreted as a signal that the acquirer’s employees will be favored for lower-level positions as well, creating the risk of critical talent leaving the acquired company.

Typically, at least the top two levels of leadership below the CEO are chosen before the deal closes, usually by the combined company’s chief executive, and the appointments are often subject to board approval. In selecting direct reports, the CEO should first focus on roles essential to maintaining business continuity along with those needed to fulfill the growth or transformation ambitions that motivated the acquisition. For example, if the CEO is moving from a sales-led geographic structure to a more matrixed brand structure, selecting a chief marketing officer should be a top priority, and if no sufficiently strong candidate is present at either organization, the company should quickly launch an external search. Furthermore, the new leadership team ideally should be introduced to the organization as a group rather than through appointment announcements over time, as a one-time transition in management will help lower uncertainty and distraction among employees.

For the rest of the staff, the selection principles and process should be communicated as soon as possible to reassure employees that the methodology will be consistent and equitable. The principles are typically developed by the CHRO, endorsed by the CEO, and shared with the employee base as the talent selection process kicks off. They may range from strategic, outcome-oriented goals (such as supporting and protecting the core businesses and enabling the vision for the combined company) to specific guidelines (for example, if a position in the new organization consists at least in half of new responsibilities, all eligible employees from both companies can apply for it).

What matters most is that the principles resonate with the organization and increase confidence in the process. They should address questions such as: What does the talent selection aim to achieve? Will employees from both companies receive equal consideration for positions? Who decides who will be offered positions in the merged company? And, will downgrades, grandfathering, relocation, trial periods, and other individual factors be part of the decisions?

The selection process also needs to establish “guardrails”: legal parameters by which decisions must abide, such as regulatory approvals, the WARN Act (for US businesses) and works council stipulations (for European businesses mostly) that apply to HR practices and may vary by role, geography, and timeframe (for example, pre-close, day one, and post-close). Such guardrails are typically shared only among HR employees responsible for defining and executing the selection process and with managers involved in conducting interviews or choosing talent for the new company. The parameters should be defined and disseminated as soon as possible after the deal is announced and reviewed regularly by the general counsel overseeing the integration.

Finally, management needs to define and communicate the criteria, process, and timeline for selections. These are often constrained by how quickly a company needs to make staffing decisions, how involved direct managers are in the process, and the availability and quality of talent assessment data. Typically, the criteria cover the following kinds of questions:

  • How do you define the talent pool eligible for each role in the new organization (for example, can potential candidates come from both legacy companies)? If someone is not selected for a CEO-2 role (reporting to a CEO’s direct report), can the individual be eligible for a CEO-3 role? Could he or she be offered positions in other parts of the company?
  • What guides the selection when multiple incumbent employees apply for a role?
  • What data (such as performance ratings or R&D patent applications) and other inputs (resumes, for example) are considered and how do you calibrate their relative importance given different practices in the legacy organizations and potential functional or individual biases?
  • For which roles will you conduct interviews or seek additional internal or external applicants, and how will you source external talent if needed?

In terms of schedule and time frame, the following questions should be answered:

  • Are you prioritizing talent selection by seniority and level of responsibility, or handling multiple employee tiers at once?
  • When will candidates be notified, when will new roles begin, and what will be the exit dates for those leaving?
  • Will the dates vary by office location or country?
  • What do HR business partners, managers, and other decision makers need to do, and by when, in order for candidates to be notified of selection outcomes by a certain date?

Establish a central office to coordinate selection

Deciding which employees should stay, go, or move to different roles is often a complex process involving many decision makers and urgent time pressures. If managed poorly, it can cause the new company to lose critical talent and capabilities, miss synergy targets, face business disruptions, and even risk lawsuits and reputational damage. What’s more, during the hectic integration period, the HR team often lacks the capacity to adequately support talent selection, especially as the department is likely undergoing its own functional integration. Creating a talent selection office (TSO)—a temporary, centralized command group—can improve the employee experience, produce better selection outcomes, and reduce potential legal risks.

A TSO is particularly valuable during large employee reorganizations driven by ambitious synergy targets and undertaken within short time frames. It can also play a vital role in ensuring exits happen quickly when one or both of the merging companies operate in multiple geographies or industries with complex labor laws or strong union relationships. For example, when one US-based company acquired a European firm of similar size with a significant number of employee overlaps across numerous regions and functions, it established a temporary TSO and placed a member of the target company in charge. Not only did the central TSO enable the combined organization to reach its synergy targets roughly six months ahead of schedule, but the choice of lead helped reassure the target company’s employees that the selection process would be fair to them.

As the command center, the TSO is responsible for guiding leaders involved in the selection process in how they manage organizational anxiety around potential head-count reductions. This includes instructing managers and job candidates on the interview and selection steps and timelines and coordinating with the communications team of the central integration management office (IMO), where appropriate, on responses to questions about the process. The TSO also ensures that the employee choices align with the new organization’s strategy, desired culture, and synergy objectives related to employees, and that the selection and retention processes adhere to the established principles and other guidelines.


Communicate with stakeholders

 

Typically, the TSO is also responsible for the third element of the selection process: managing stakeholder expectations. This can range from defining who will be consulted in talent selection decisions to helping managers conducting interviews understand how much time is required and when they need to commit. The TSO needs to become the “one source of truth,” tracking decisions in real time and making sure systems are updated promptly and accurately.

Doing this effectively requires regular communication among several stakeholder groups, including the IMO (to coordinate the timeline with other integration activities), employees involved (both those who interview or select candidates and the candidates themselves), the communications team (to align messaging related to talent, such as the announcement of a new leadership team), and finance and IT (to coordinate updates to HR management and payroll systems). The TSO also needs to be in close touch with the company’s HR partners to coordinate the execution of the selection process, as when new external employees are brought onboard.

Onboard employees into new jobs

Once talent selection is completed and announced, the talent team often thinks its job is done. However, the selected employees still need to be properly onboarded. Given the intense pace and workload before, during, and right after a merger, this crucial step is often neglected, leaving employees who start new jobs insufficiently prepared for the realities of the merged organization.

To avoid a decline in workforce performance and employee experience, the TSO should work with HR staff and line managers to define the onboarding requirements, at least for critical roles and talent. It should also solicit feedback from employees on their experience of the integration process and report that to the IMO.

Källa: McKinsey.com, October 2020
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Improve your leadership team’s effectiveness through key behaviors

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap on september 29th, 2020 by admin
Having effective leadership teams can yield significant results across the entire organization. All leadership teams should strive for such results by addressing key opportunity areas and the behaviors most important to their success.

Delivers growth, innovation, and organizational agility and is an expert on culture change, leadership development, team effectiveness, capability building, and transformation

As investors cast a wider net to gain a more accurate view of a company’s prospects, most realize they should also look closely at the management team. Leaders can make or break a company transformation. In fact, 33 percent of failed transformations occur because the leadership team’s behaviors did not support the desired changes.

Consider one large insurance company. Discord among senior leaders led to low trust among team members, misaligned priorities, ineffective meetings, and struggles to make or adhere to decisions. The result was significant churn and rework. Employee engagement and accountability dropped, and the transformation slowed.

With so much riding on the leadership team’s performance, what can be done to improve its effectiveness?

Our experience, combined with scientific literature on organizational psychology, revealed 22 behaviors that contribute to effectiveness. These behaviors can be broadly condensed into four characteristics of effective teams:

  • They configure the team around a clear mandate and precise roles, understanding which roles drive the most value and securing the right talent for those positions.
  • They align on a value agenda, set of priorities, and way of working together, which helps forge a distinct identity.
  • They execute under a governance system that allows them to make decisions quickly and effectively, collaborate, and challenge one another.
  • They take time to renew—evolving, innovating, learning from the broader context, and investing in individual and team-wide development.

Bringing leadership together around critical behaviors

We studied 37 organizations to understand how frequently each behavior occurs in their leadership teams and which ones they believe are most important to their success. The results suggest that significant opportunity exists to improve behaviors associated with team effectiveness.

For instance, while leadership teams generally agree that aligning on their purpose is critical, only 60 percent of organizations’ team members reported that they were actually aligned. Similarly, while consistent communication is ranked as a priority, less than 40 percent of teams report practicing it. This failure to enact important behaviors is a missed opportunity: when leadership teams have a shared, meaningful, and engaging vision, the company is nearly two times more likely to achieve above-median financial performance.*

To design a leadership team journey, teams should align on their value agenda and vision; be thoughtful about which profiles are represented in the leadership team; structure the right cadence of interactions, focus on the most important decisions and areas where the team needs to collaborate; and identify and develop three to five behaviors that are most critical to delivering the organization’s value agenda. The initiatives taken to address these behaviors should be simple and results oriented.

It is easy for senior leadership teams to fall into a pattern of addressing all escalated decisions. Therefore, some leadership teams have improved their effectiveness by focusing their time and attention on the work only they can do and delegate the rest. Relatedly, some teams schedule fewer meetings with the core team and instead use committees to meet on topics for which the full team is not required.

Source: McKinsey. com, 2020
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