It’s important to have a vision for your company but what’s more important is making sure that everyone in the team knows what that vision is and how to get there. Jeremy Campbell, CEO of Black Isle Group, expert on behavioural science and an executive coach, offers advice on how to boost an organisation’s productivity and build an engaged team. He explains how leaders can get a team to buy in to a shared vision and improve growth.
Business leaders are great at brainstorming strategies, devising visions and crafting grand missions. But none of it matters if you don’t get people to buy in and take the right actions to achieve your company goals.
Most bosses are deluded about how much their teams understand on where the company is going and what they need to do as individuals to get it there. Test it yourself. Go into any office and ask, “What’s the goal? What are you doing today to achieve it?” You might get great answers but, chances are, you’ll get a sea of blank faces.
This is a dilemma which has irked the team at Black Isle Group for some time. The disruption of the pandemic made it even more urgent to re-think how we maximise performance. We set ourselves a challenge – could we increase the performance of a team by a factor of 10, in 10 weeks, if we went about this in a different way.
Bravely, IT transformation business, VCG, stepped up to be our guinea pigs. The goal was to see if we could add £3 million to its business pipeline in ten weeks. We did it in four. So, if your paying attention now, we’ll explain how we did it for them and how it could work for you.
Let’s start with the story of the London Olympics in 2012. Jade Jones was a teenage Welsh taekwondo athlete who dreamt of a gold medal. Sarah Broadhead was one of her coaches.
In the 24 months before the games, Broadhead and Jones compiled a list of the key actions they would take every single day. It covered what Jones would need to do around sleep, diet, stretching, strength, technique and many other things to move towards her dream of Olympic gold.
A dozen specific actions each week translated into more than 50 small steps each month, more than 500 every year and more than 1,000 actions by the time the games began. Broadhead told us that by focusing on the everyday actions they removed the anxiety of the daunting goal of gold.
At the end of each week, athlete and coach would review their progress and agree their next set of small steps for the following week. On this journey they were constantly being distracted by things which could push them off course or break the new habits they were embedding. But the everyday actions brought them back on task.
Jones struck gold in London and then, against all odds, repeated the feat in Rio in 2016. She became an enduring and inspiring image of remarkable success.
So, would it work if we took that methodology and applied it to addressing business performance?
We devised a six-step methodology which brought together some of the Olympic thinking and blended it with our own experience of getting teams to buy into big goals to deliver growth.
STEP ONE – First, be very clear on the goal and make sure that everyone involved is very clear on the goal. Then organise a ten-week sprint. Get everyone together and motivate and inspire them to smash that goal.
STEP TWO – Then sit down with each member of the team and be very specific about what they need to do to contribute to smashing the goal. Encourage them to act small and often. Encourage them to focus, not be distracted and stick to the task.
STEP THREE – Then we wanted to measure our progress and make sure that everyone could see that as we went along. To do this we devised an app called Nudge. It did two things. It nudged people every day on their phones or PCs to carry out their key individual actions. It also gave the team access to high quality tracking and insights about how they were getting on.
STEP FOUR – Next, we encouraged everyone to aim for progress and not perfection. It was consistency we were trying to achieve, not 100% infallibility.
STEP FIVE – Then we sought to make everyone accountable and to ensure they maintained momentum. Everyone got a peer coach. We coached the leaders. At the end of the week everyone on the team had a coaching session to discuss their progress, their challenges and their approach to the following week’s effort.
STEP SIX – Finally, we made sure that each week we celebrated the small successes, and we called out the achievements of members of the team, especially where they had helped colleagues and worked in a collaborative way.
In the words of the VCG leadership, “We knocked it out of the park. Not only did we smash the numbers, but we also saw the team work together in a way which would not have been imaginable before we set out.”
The use of the methodology of everyday actions has continued to evolve since then. The supporting Nudge technology has also seen significant investment and development. When we look at the reasons why teams do not buy in to a shared vision for growth, we see much more clearly why this works. We fail through lack of clarity, failing to focus, no accountability and being distracted. Everyday actions tackle each of these.
At the heart of this new approach is an old adage of Olympic coaches, “Successful people consistently do what others only occasionally do.”
That too is the secret of maximising performance in business.Click below to share this article