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How to Create a Team of Problem Solvers

Posted by: Cheryl Jekiel | No Comments

Phil had just gotten back from a senior leadership meeting where they had crafted the company plan for the next 3 years including detailed goals for next year.

The development of the strategy reminds him that their last engagement survey showed that most employees don’t see their role in supporting the company goals (or the bigger picture).

While his leadership team had made some attempts to review strategies during their town hall meetings, Phil winces when he thinks of how much they have failed to effectively engage the employees in the strategies.

Yet, Phil is sure that employees won’t make needed behavioral changes if they’re mostly unaware of key business concerns and how they can help make the changes.

Some of the key strategies include improving time delivery, customer service, and the safety of the facilities. There had been some serious quality issues that impacted both on-time delivery and customer service.

Phil is sure that their customers would like to think that 100% of their workforce is committed to solving the quality issues and ensuring on-time delivery.

However, the leadership teams have been focusing on strategy deployment amongst the management teams and have done little to identify the specific behaviors that will need to improve to achieve their goals. In addition, Phil realizes that their request for people to be more ‘careful’ is likely not helping anyone make changes in how they produce their products.

In considering their current approach, Phil is clear that they typically focus on the 50 managers getting involved and less on the other 950 employees. Yet, wouldn’t having 1,000 people working on the organization’s goals be a lot more advantageous than just 50?

Phil is at a loss for a more successful approach, but realizes they’ll need to find a way to involve everyone if they are going to optimize their success.

Having faced similar challenges to Phil’s, here are 3 options to break down your goals that can allow every employee to participate:

1. Challenge your leadership team to identify what employees would need to do differently to impact the key metrics. For example, if you have a goal to improve product quality, identify the specific behaviors in the production process that could impact quality results. Even if the information isn’t new, the challenge is to effectively communicate with each person involved as to how they impact the metric (and why change is important).

Be aware that people often use terms that are vague about what ‘better looks like’. Behaviors are observable and should be clearly understood by your listeners.

2. Working with employee teams, brainstorm what specific behaviors make the biggest impact on measurable goals for a given area. Management teams can only begin to identify the specific behaviors to focus upon to improve results. Gather their ideas not only on improving results, but also about how to better communicate this information.

3. Encourage your work teams to observe work areas in order to identify behaviors that represent opportunities for improvement. You may want to make a special point to observe people who are known to have better-than-average results to shed light on what specific behaviors they exhibit that others could learn from.

If you’ve taken the time to put together a strategy with your senior team but haven’t figured out a good way to involve everyone else, click here to download this introduction to basic and advanced practices of performance management.

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