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Business Strategies Archives - Moellering

When it comes to the long-term success of your organization, who you work with matters! [Infographic]

T TI Success Insights has been an industry-leading force helping organizations across the globe improve hiring, retention, engagement, and training with effective, valid and reliable assessments since 1984.

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When It Comes to Developing Your Organization, Do Your Numbers Add Up? [Infographic]

W hen it comes to training your current workforce, including your next generation of leaders, having a first-rate training plan that employs assessment solutions is key. Assessments can be used to uncover the how and why behind behaviors, soft skills, and EQ, producing results and increasing engagement.

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Bottom-up Thinking Through Messy Strategy: Creating Alignment Within Organizations

H ow do we do what is right by the people of our organization while protecting the company’s bottom line? The answer lies in reimagining the way we plan our strategies. Rather than relying on the age-old method of “top-down” thinking, we need to consider a new, more effective approach, that begins at the bottom and works its way up. This is a method we employ at TTI Success Insights and it works.

The concept of Messy Strategy is based on a “bottom-up” strategic planning process. Messy Strategy involves every employee seeing themselves in the company’s overall plan. This strategy succeeds when all employees have input in the plan and work toward a common goal. When the entire staff feels like they are a part of the planning process, they take ownership of the plan, even if their own personal contribution is a very small part of the overall strategy.

Messy Strategy involves every employee seeing themselves in the company’s overall plan.

What is Messy Strategy?

What if an organization had a roadmap to achieve consistently high-levels of success? What if the organization was able to bubble up all the unique and diverse ideas from the receptionist to the CEO, hearing the voice of every employee and incorporating that into the strategic plan? Imagine the results a company could achieve if every employee felt heard. What would that do for employee morale and engagement?

At TTI Success Insights, we use this approach and have been extremely happy with the results. It starts out with leadership asking the staff for candid feedback to an annual company survey. Year after year, our people contribute more and more constructive feedback, which gives us a better perspective of where we are and where we need to go.

An important thing to understand about the process is that it can be a significant investment of time – and messy – thus the name, Messy Strategy. In our case, the process involves reading hundreds of pages of feedback from employees. Going line by line, we read every single word that is written.

Messy Strategy may be intense, but it is also very invigorating. It gives us the intelligence we need to be able to formulate a plan that makes sense for our business. As leaders, we may believe we know exactly what the organization needs, but it’s not until we get the feedback from the entire staff that we fully understand the breadth and depth of the organization’s challenges.

Messy Strategy gives us the intelligence we need to be able to formulate a plan that makes sense for our business.

Once all the feedback is read, we brainstorm ideas, pasting a countless number of sticky notes on the walls. This helps us sort out what to do now, in the near future, in the distant future and whenever we get to it.

The key takeaway is that it’s not top-down, it’s bottom-up. Messy Strategy means hearing, feeling and understanding what every employee is thinking. Employees want to see themselves in the company plan. When they feel they are heard and that their input matters, they buy in. Having the ability to achieve a bottom-up strategy will give you a top-down confidence to execute your strategic plan.

 

How to make Messy Strategy work effectively

A few basic tenets need to be in place for Messy Strategy to work effectively. Organizations need to have a tolerance for failure, but not be willing to accept incompetence. Experimentation is acceptable if implemented with a highly disciplined approach. Brutally candid communication throughout the organization allows recalibration if the plan veers off course. Any member of the organization should be encouraged to speak up if something is not working.

Collaboration with individual accountability ensures everyone does their part. Finally, over communicate! Too much communication, rather than not enough, helps to address any uncertainty and confusion that may arise within an organization.

7 Techniques to Messy Strategy

Make sure the process fits your organization. Consider your company’s culture and employ a process consistent with that culture so the process feels natural. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Messy Strategy. Do what feels right for your company.

Plan for planning. Be very strategic about dates and times. If possible, break up planning sessions to provide time for reflection. Start with a deep dive, then pause and reflect. We tend to get overly optimistic during planning, so having time to reflect brings real-world perspective back into the process.

For us, taking a break between sessions, or having a day to contemplate the multitude of ideas, provides perspective. Time gives us a true feel for whether or not a strategy makes sense and is viable.

It’s recommended to do the planning on-site if your company has the right space. When employees see the leadership team working diligently to create a solid plan, it’s energizing to the staff. Off-site strategy can easily be misperceived by employees as leisure time for leaders. Let them see you working hard!

Give voice to the entire organization. Get a pulse on the culture. A great question to ask is, “If there is one thing you can change about the organization today, what would it be – and why?” Be sure to ask that question! It’s better to know what issues your employees have with your organization now, so you can make every attempt to correct any shortcomings. Try to ask the same questions year after year to find trends and common themes.

We didn’t realize our need as a company for a human resources professional until that fact came to light consistently during our surveys. Once we had that information, we took action by creating a new position and hiring a great candidate to fill it. The employees know they are being heard.

Identify “start, stop and continue” behaviors and actions. Figure out what is working, what isn’t and what is currently missing. This concept pertains to individuals and the organization as a whole. This recognizes jobs well done, while also pointing out areas of improvement. It’s just as important to celebrate the victories as it is to address the problems and challenges.

Start with actions, end with numbers. Once you can identify what needs to be improved, you can more effectively translate that into numbers, creating much more accurate goals. Taking this route usually results in higher-stretching goals compared with processes that start with the numbers.

Make the plan presentation special. In today’s virtual world, be sure to keep it tangible. At TTI SI, we hand out binders and schedule a full-staff presentation around the year’s strategic plan. We end the presentation with a Q&A session encouraging employee feedback. This interaction makes the strategic plan become a two-way agreement.

When presenting the plan, look for employees who light up because they see themselves in the plan. Positive energy is contagious! Once employees know they are being heard, it encourages them to be even more candid and forthcoming in the future.

Create a meeting cadence and follow it. There’s no “right” formula when it comes to best practices for meetings. Do what works best for your organization. Once you’ve identified a certain cadence, do your best to stick to it.

Circumstances may dictate making changes to the meeting schedule or format throughout the year, which is ok, as long as you clearly communicate those changes with the organization. Employees want to know that leadership has a firm grasp on the pulse of the organization.

Leading by example will help you accomplish strategic alignment with complete buy-in from the organization. Several times throughout the year, we follow up by sending short surveys to the staff enabling us to understand the pulse of the organization. This process lets us know if we are on track or need to make adjustments.

Final thoughts

Every organization has its own culture and its unique way of doing things. How Messy Strategy is implemented will vary company to company. The key is to make it work for your organization. The good news is that this is not the same old way of conducting business. Messy Strategy is an invigorating process that leads to positive results.

At TTI Success Insights, we believe in being as authentic and transparent as possible. Involving your staff and gaining their buy-in throughout the planning process will provide an organization of happy, productive employees aligned to the company’s strategic plan.

Article written by Ashley Bowers, President and Chief Strategy Officer for TTI Success Insights Global Consulting.

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7 Keys to Successful Organizational Development

B usiness is no longer business as usual. In fact, those who don’t embrace change in the modern workplace run the risk of becoming yesterday’s news. Today, the organization needs to be working in unison, aligned with a strategic plan that has the buy-in from all members of the team, regardless of position.

Organizational development can be defined as the theory and practice of planned, systematic change in the attitudes, beliefs and values of employees.

Organizational development can be defined as the theory and practice of planned, systematic change in the attitudes, beliefs and values of employees. How does an organization get all of its employees to be part of the process? These seven strategies proposed in a recent humanresourcesmba.net article can help an organization create a unified company direction, rallying around a strategic plan created and embraced by all employees.

Involve all employees in decision making

In the days of old, leaders and managers sat in boardrooms and created strategic plans. Once they were done planning, employees were expected to follow the newly implemented plans and be fully on board, even if they had nothing to do with the plan or no say in it. It’s pretty easy to see how that might not be the most successful way to go about it.

“Involving employees in the entirety of the planning process serves the single-most important purpose of giving them input into the company plan. If they have a say in the plan, how could they not be on board with it? By believing they are part of the change, they are more engaged and more willing to go along with the plan, even portions of it that they may not necessarily embrace.

The key is to empower employees with the tools, including the necessary decision-making abilities, to do their job unencumbered. Let them own their unique part of the company’s universe and be fully responsible for it.

Change should focus on groups and departments

Each specific department should be analyzed to see where it is highly functional and where it can be improved. The change should be department wide, not necessarily put on the shoulders of certain individuals. Look at the whole of the group and try to identify common themes. Are certain deadlines not being met consistently? What might be the cause of this? Are there recurring bottlenecks that are inhibiting a smooth work path? What can be done, department-wide, that might improve these workflows?

Build trust throughout the organization

Employees simply will not give their full effort and attention to a company that they do not trust. Building trust with the employee is paramount to getting the employee’s buy-in to the company’s strategic plan. Trust and respect are the building blocks upon which all good company/employee relations are built.

Trust and respect are the building blocks upon which all good company/employee relations are built.

Building trust should not be an afterthought. Without this important component, nothing else really matters. Everything starts and ends with mutual trust.

Encourage collaboration over competition

It used to be common to create internal competitions to spur action. But for every competition, there needs to be a loser. When someone loses repetitively, they may eventually decide to stop competing. A better alternative is to create an environment of collaboration over competition.

When people work together, they all have a part in the success and no one has to lose. Of course, ensuring a smooth workflow free from bottlenecks is paramount to ensuring the success of the collaboration, but as long as safeguards are put in place, a collaborative work environment can produce higher quality work with less stress on individual employees.

Invest in education, benefits and incentives

Helping your employees become masters of their own personal universe empowers them to excel at their activities. Investing in education to help them learn the necessary skills to do their jobs to the best of their ability. On or off-site training can help improve specific skills and keeps employees current on new methods, techniques and information.

Helping your employees become masters of their own personal universe empowers them to excel at their activities.

Create the opportunity for employee feedback

Having open channels of communication is key for an organization to ensure it’s strategic plan gets carried out. Not only should employees have an unrestricted ability to give meaningful feedback, including constructive criticism, during the planning stages, but they should also have the ability to openly communicate all along the way should unforeseen problems arise.

This two-way communication should not be restricted to annual performance reviews or monthly one-on-one meetings. Employees should be able to voice their opinions at any time in order to ensure that operations continue to run smoothly.

Involve all members of the organization

It’s important to showcase the importance of diversity of thought, and the need for every member of the organization to participate in strategic planning sessions. The greatest ideas may not always come from the person with the most prestigious title.

It just may be the janitor that sees something that needs attention that others may miss. It may be the receptionist who talks with people on a daily basis that has the true pulse of the organization and some of its customers’ concerns. Never discount a person’s opinion simply because of their position within the company and get feedback and input from every single member of the organization.

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In this guide, you’ll get access to the seven most important questions to ask when hiring someone. And yes, they go way beyond a basic job description.