The research and practice of coaching in the United States suffers from something I see too often in many other areas of business research and practice. As Americans, perhaps we are too ethnocentric for our own good.
Leaders insulate themselves by limiting their study almost exclusively to U.S. institutions, companies and authors.
Recently, Europe’s largest HR and professional development organization (over 135,000 members) completed a 2 year study entitled “Shaping the Future” (Research Lead: Dr. Jill Miller).
This study was not only extremely well researched, but the ten conclusions are superb insights for those who are in positions of leadership where they are responsible for sustained performance.
So, forget for a moment that “organisational” is spelled differently. This study is relevant to your business.
Here are the ten points, directly quoted from the study:
1. The organisation change response needs to be truly agile and enduring, not a knee-jerk reaction that quickly dissipates: Organisations need to ensure change isn’t just a temporary break from the norm, maintained by employees only while the immediate “storm” is passing. Instead, change should manifest itself as a more proactive agility, creating organisations open to new directions, aware of the limitations and risks of not changing, and equipped to keep moving and adapting.
2. It’s a fine balance between alignment and flexibility: While aligning employee, customer and other stakeholders’ values, behaviours and objectives with a wider organisational purpose is important, over-focusing on this alignment can create barriers to the flexibility needed to enable the organisation to change.
3. Shared purpose can only be achieved by finding human connections beyond short-term profit or efficiency targets: By fostering amongst employees a genuine sense of shared purpose and meaning at work, stronger connections, engagement and performance can be delivered.
4. Collaborative leadership brings sustainability, so organisations should avoid defaulting to a directive and driven approach to leadership in tough times: Reinforcing a collaborative problem-sharing approach can drive longer-term, sustainable change, agility and engagement.
5. ‘Middle management’ have a valuable transforming and translating role but are often sidelined, bypassed or cut out in change processes: Suitably skilled middle managers can play a key role as transformers and translators in bringing change to life. As translators they can facilitate two-way communications between leaders and the front line and as transformers they can bring change to life. Much of this can be lost when change involves “delayering” this middle-management tier, rather than refocusing, retraining and drawing on their skills and experiences.
6. An over-focus on today’s needs is not true talent management; it’s talent tunnel vision: Identifying and developing the capabilities individuals will need in the long-term is crucial to meet the organisational imperatives of tomorrow.
7. Truly understanding employees’ locus of engagement can avoid the risk of over-attachment and underperformance: Organisations need to get under the surface of employees’ engagement and better understand whether they are truly engaged with the organisation and its core objectives, or if they are only engaged with some selected parts of their roles, or with individual managers and colleagues. This more selective engagement can undermine sustainable performance.
8. Perceptions of unfairness undermine employee engagement: Perceptions of unfairness or organisational injustice can stifle employee engagement and act as a blocker to performance.
9. Process-heavy organisations are often still insight-light: Overemphasis on backward-looking targets defends existence but doesn’t prove worth. Organisations need to cull data that doesn’t add value and be curious with the remainder to uncover real insight.
10. Leaders don’t always know best about the long-term vision: Effective mechanisms for upwards communication – that filter important signals from the ground from the background noise – can provide real insight and challenge for leaders, and inform longer-term planning.
There are many ways to bring benefit to your organization through the use of these insights.
Please consider how you can make use of these points within your own company. I want to encourage to think beyond the obvious and make some creative applications.
Then, please share your discoveries with me and the readers of this blog!