The Leadership Imperative - Removing Obstacles to Great Performance!
by Rick Sidorowicz

Unleash the creative talents of individuals and allow your people to deliver great performance to your customers. Identifying the ‘right’ direction is the first step. Removing the obstacles that prevent great performance is the second step.

Obstacles are generally in two areas: mind-sets, and organization structures and systems. We tend to focus on the mind-set issues of motivation, teamwork, attitude, and communication and wonder why efforts stall when you stop ‘pushing’. Perhaps the attitudes are outcomes - of the systems, structures and practices of the environment. So focus on what you can directly influence - especially in how performance is defined, measured, and rewarded.

Set standards between performers and their customers - performers must meet regularly with their customers to agree on the standards of performance;

Reduce expectations to simple, specific, and measurable numbers - measure the ‘right stuff’, which is what makes the difference to customers;

Make performance visible to every employee - let performers get the feedback directly, in real time, not through third parties; ensure that those who have to perform measure their own performance - do your performers know how well they are doing?

Performance must have consequences - performance must matter to individuals; ‘A’ for accomplishment, ‘F’ for effort. (period!) Reward those who achieve, and ensure less desirable outcomes for those who don’t.

Involve the performers in the design of the reward systems - as long as someone else is responsible for the design, fairness, and motivational aspects of rewards, someone else will also be responsible for performance.

Decentralize decision making to the point of customer contact - those closest to the customer have a more complete understanding of what great performance looks like for their customers!

Manage the present and the future - the past can’t be managed - it’s gone! What information do we need to manage and improve what is happening today, and plan for the future? 

Make teamwork happen by structuring important work in teams and cross functional groups and rewarding team performance;

Ask yourself - what systems are causing my people problems? Then change the system to change the people.

And better yet - what’s the best way to identify and remove the obstacles that prevent great performance? Ask your people what prevents their great performance and get to work on those obstacles!

The Leadership Imperative is a continuing series inspired by the work of James Belasco and Ralph Stayer on self directed action in The Flight of the Buffalo, Warner Books, New York, 1994.

Rick Sidorowicz is the Publisher and Editor of The CEO Refresher and
the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail.

Many more articles in The Leadership Imperative in The CEO Refresher Archives


Copyright 1999 by Rick Sidorowicz. All rights reserved.

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