The Art of Strengths Coaching

C is for Building Core Teams That Follow The Core Principles and Deliver The Agreed Concrete Results  

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Many organisations aim to get their people to behave in similar ways across different cultures and countries. Different organisations do this in different ways.

The Policing Approach

Some organisations aim to control everything from the centre by producing and policing process manuals. Such an approach may work in the short term, but it can then cause problems. This is especially the case in knowledge-based organisations.

The centre’s response is often to produce more manuals and more supervision. Eventually people leave to find places where they can use their creativity to deliver the required concrete results.

The Managing By Outcomes Approach

Some organisations aim to manage by outcomes rather than manage by tasks. This is often a more effective method of channelling the efforts of knowledge workers.

The centre starts by communicating the specific outcomes they want each department to deliver. These may include goals in terms of profitability, product quality – including customer satisfaction – and people morale.

Such organisations also aim to get the right balance between consistency and creativity. They explain the things that must be done in a consistent way and those where people can use their creativity. They also explain the reasons for these guidelines.

The centre then makes clear contracts with each department. These agreements often cover the following areas.

The specific outcomes the department will deliver.

The specific strategies they will follow to deliver the outcomes.

The specific things they will do to proactively keep the centre informed.

The specific support they need to deliver the outcomes.

The specific early successes they will deliver.

People are encouraged to keep the centre informed. Providing they follow the overall guidelines, they have freedom to use their creativity to do good work. This freedom remains dependent on them delivering the agreed outcomes.

The Core Principles Approach

Some organisations focus on the core principles they want people to follow in their work. They then make clear contracts with people about how they want to follow these principles and deliver the agreed concrete results.

Different organisations use different names for this approach. They may talk about following principles, values or guidelines. Alternatively, they may talk about following a common credo or compass.

During the past forty years I have worked with many organisations that have followed this approach. There are certain conditions that need to put in place, however, to make it work successfully.

Imagine that you lead an organisation and want to adopt this approach. Let’s explore some steps you can take to make it happen.

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You can build a core team at
the centre that believes in
following certain core principles

The core team at the centre can act as positive models and set the tone for the rest of the organisation. Bearing this in mind can be useful:

To build a good core team.

To agree on the core principles.

To communicate these principles to the rest of the organisation.

Great organisations are often made up of people who have similarity of spirit and diversity of strengths. So it can be useful to build a good leadership team that embodies the following qualities.

The core team needs:

To have a strong desire to pursue the organisation’s purpose and translate this into a clear picture of success.

To have complementary strengths that will enable them to work well together as a team and also guide their people towards achieving the picture of success

To have similar professional views regarding the principles they believe the organisation can follow towards achieving the picture of success.

Imagine that you have built such a team that has a strong desire to pursue the organisation’s purpose. It also has complementary strengths that enable it to work well as a team.

The next step is to agree on the principles people can follow to achieve the organisation’s goals. One approach is to take the following steps.

Step One

You can invite the team members to reflect on when people in the organisation have performed brilliantly in the past, the principles they followed then and how they can follow these principles in the future.

Step Two

You can invite the team members to reflect and then share their suggestions regarding the key principles they believe it will be important for people to follow in the future. They can then agree on the key principles people can follow to achieve the picture of success.

Step Three

You can invite the team members to clarify the specific things they can do to act as positive models and translate these principles into action in their own daily work as leaders.

Different core teams come up with different kinds of principles. This obviously depends on the field in which the organisation works. Whatever their activity, however, they may produce principles that focus the following themes.

Personal Attitude

They may describe principles such as being positive, taking responsibility or encouraging other people.

Professionalism

They may describe principles such as being professional, earning trust, giving great service or helping customers and colleagues to succeed.

Peak Performance

They may describe principles such as performing superb work, continuing to improve, delivering the goods or adding that touch of class.

Good organisations then distil these principles into key messages that they give people. One organisation, for example, encouraged their people to:

Be positive … Encourage other people … Deliver success.

Imagine that you lead a core leadership team that has clarified the key principles. It can then be important:

To be positive models in the way you live the principles.

To communicate the principles to people in the organisation.

To produce success stories that show how people in the organisation live the principles.

Let’s look at the second step. Imagine that you are addressing everybody in the organisation. This could be during a kick-off meeting or other event.

You might say something along the following lines to explain the approach to people.

Welcome To Today’s Session.

I am going to give an overview of our organisation’s purpose and the principles we can follow to achieve this goal. 

Later I will explain the part you can play in making this happen. But first let me give an outline of our overall approach to working together.

The Purpose

The purpose of our organisation is:  

* To

The picture of success that we want to achieve by the end
of the year that will be an expression of this purpose is:

* To

* To 

* To

The specific benefits for the various
stakeholders of achieving this purpose will be:

* To 

* To 

* To

The Principles

The principles we aim to follow to achieve this purpose –
together with the reasons for each of these principles – are:

* To

* To

* To

The specific examples of when people in the organisation
have translated these principles into action have been:

*

*

*

The specific results that people delivered
by following these principles were:  

*

*  

*  

The Practice 

The way you practice these principles will – within parameters – be up to you in your part of the organisation.

But there is key point. It is important to show how what you do supports the principles and contributes toward achieving the purpose. 

Looking ahead, we will give you the chance to explore how you want to follow these principles in your part of the organisation. We will then give you the support you need to achieve the picture of success.

You can then keep communicating the core principles to your people. This can be done both before they join and during their time in the organisation.

Imagine that you lead an organisation. There are many ways to build a core team that believes in following certain core principles. You will, of course, find your own way to make this happen.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to build a core team at the centre that believes in following certain core principles.  

Describe the specific benefits of building such a core team.

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Let’s move on to the next step for living the principles across the organisation.

You can build core teams across
the organisation that believe in
following the core principles

Great organisations have people who follow similar core principles and this helps to make the organisation special. People need to follow similar principles, because this provides consistency. It is important that people are characters, however, rather than just clones.

Such organisations often follow the Global-Local approach. They communicate the global purpose and principles. They then give local organisations freedom – within parameters – regarding how they translate these principles into action. The freedom does, however, come with a price.

The local organisation needs to manage the centre. It can do this by showing how it is following the principles and contributing to the purpose. It can then continue to apply the principles in appropriate ways to deliver the required concrete results.

How to make this happen? One approach that some organisations use is to write thick manuals and then supervise people into following the processes.

This can be useful in certain situations. It does not work, however, in organisations that want their people to be self managing and deliver ongoing success.

One approach that does work is to build core teams across the organisation that want to follow the agreed principles. These teams may lead departments or countries. They then become the positive models for the areas they lead.

Imagine that you want to build such teams across the organisation. You may find it useful to go through the following steps.

You can explain the organisation’s purpose and core principles to people who want to be part of such a core team that leads a department or country.

You can invite the people to decide if they want to follow these core principles – whilst also giving them lots of chances to say if they don’t – to help the organisation to achieve its picture of success.

You can then invite the people who want to contribute to present how they would like to follow the principles and to describe the support they need to do this in their daily work.

The recruitment process in building such teams is crucial. It is vital to make the deal clear to people who want to lead and join such teams. They then need to reflect and decide if they are prepared to follow such principles. Again, you are looking for characters not clones.

During the interview process, for example, you can explain the approach to people. People must see the point of following the guidelines to maintain the organisation’s culture. If people don’t want to opt in, then that is okay. You can get people who are prepared to follow the principles.

As you may have already done with the people in your organisation, you may want to explain the following themes to potential employees.

The Purpose

The purpose of our organisation is:  

* To

The picture of success that we want to achieve by the end
of the year that will be an expression of this purpose is:

* To

* To 

* To

The specific benefits for the various
stakeholders of achieving this purpose will be:

* To 

* To 

* To

The Principles

The principles we aim to follow to achieve this purpose –
together with the reasons for each of these principles – are:

* To

* To

* To

The specific examples of when people in the organisation
have translated these principles into action have been:

*

*

*

The specific results that people delivered
by following these principles were:  

*

*  

*  

The Core Team’s Role In
Following The Principles

You will be a member of the core team in your part of the organisation.

If you wish, take time to reflect on whether you want to follow these core principles.

You will have freedom to follow these in your own way – within parameters – but it is vital that translate these into action in your role. 

Let us know if you would like to follow these principles. If so, we can explore how you want to do this and also give you the support you need.  

If not, that is okay. But it is best to make this clear now rather than later.

Let us know what you think. 

There are many ways to build core teams across the organisation. You will, of course, find your own way to make this happen.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to build core teams across the organisation that believe in following certain core principles.

Describe the specific benefits of building such core teams.

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You can build an organisation in which the
core teams follow the core principles
and deliver the agreed concrete results

Imagine that you have built good core teams across the organisation. You can then make clear contracts with them about the desired concrete results.

This is where you can adopt the approach of managing by outcomes. The department or country heads make clear agreements with the centre about the specific results they will deliver.

Different organisations cover different topics when making these contracts. These may, however, include themes such as performance, product quality – including customer satisfaction – and people.

Different organisations will also use different templates for making clear contracts. Below is one framework that has been used by many organisations with whom I have worked.

The department or country heads make sure they understand the Scorecard that must be delivered. Building on this Scorecard, they add other stimulating projects they would like to do in their part of the organisation. They also show the benefits of delivering these projects.

The heads meet with the key stakeholders at the centre and agree on the desired outcomes. They then produce a relatively short version of the agreed contracts.

As mentioned earlier, different organisations will use different templates. These targets may evolve as circumstances change, but it is good to start with an agreed plan. Here is the template that some organisations use.

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Great organisations ensure that each department or country has the chance to proactively update others on their progress. This can be in the form of regular monthly updates or meetings where people present success stories.

The core team at the centre also keep reminding people of the principles. Here are some of the steps they take to make this happen.

They aim to act as positive models by following the principles in their own behaviour as leaders.

They keep communicating the organisation’s purpose, the principles it aims to follow and how these are being translated into action. 

They do, when appropriate, explain how the key decisions they make are guided by using the core principles as a compass.  

They recruit, reward and promote people who embody the principles.

They continually show how people in the organisation are following the core principles and keep showing what good looks like by writing up and publishing such success stories.

They ensure the principles are embodied in every aspect of the organisation.

These include the organisation’s website, interviewing process, induction, advertising, management style, performance management, promotion, customer service, quality, environmental programme and other areas.

Great organisations continue to focus on their principles and translate these into producing positive results. Sounds challenging? Maybe, but it can be even harder to lead an organisation in which people are not aligned.

Imagine that you lead an organisation. How can you make clear contracts with the core teams across the organisation? How can you give them the support they need to do the job?

How can you encourage them continue to follow the core principles? How can you help them to make their best contributions towards achieving the picture of success?

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to build core teams across the organisation that follow the core principles and deliver the agreed concrete results. 

Describe the specific benefits of building such core teams across the organisation.

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