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Sensei Leadership Conversations – November 2010

Getting a great R.O.E. – RETURN ON ENERGY – in your organization…

All of your top talent are coasting in their roles, all of your leaders are trapped on operational treadmills, all of the teams in your business are squandering your most scarce resource – the quality time they spend together – and you have a huge untapped productivity pot right under your nose, and it is invisible to you. In this leadership conversation we discuss why these provocations might well be true for your organization.

In our September Leadership Conversation we discussed how one of the scarcest resources in today’s organizations is not money; it is leaders’ time, energy and attention. Where leaders choose to focus their discretionary time and energy also determines where and on what their organization will focus.

Figure with Magnifying glass‘You get what you inspect, not what you expect, and what gets measured gets done.’ Anon.

Whilst this quote may be showing its age, it still neatly describes the reality that leaders need to think carefully what they get excited about, as whatever this is will be what they spend their time focusing on and what gets amplified throughout their organization. Far too many leaders fall into habitual, ritualistic behaviour patterns that serve only to drive the operational treadmill round and round.

Senior Management Attention – Focus It Wisely

One of the key issues is that leaders continue to measure what they have always measured and this is often what is easy to measure, or worse, what their predecessors measured. As Einstein said:

‘Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.’

What leaders really need is a way to measure the degree of stretch in their organization and how much more they can ask it to deliver before the strain proves too much. Traditionally this is measured using ‘decibels’, i.e. how much moaning and groaning is going on from within, with the ultimate failure measures being burnout, stress, absenteeism and out of balance lifestyles.

We believe the time is now right for a more productive set of indicators to be deployed: indicators that can inform leaders on where they should deploy their time and attention if they want to sustainably grow their business. Our ground-breaking Human Performance Index™ is designed to do just that and within it the concept of R.O.E. was born.

The Human Performance Index™

The idea is simple. Strategic business results are a result of your company assets multiplied by your human performance. Company assets are the building blocks of your organization: your brand, products, services, capital investments, core processes, customer goodwill, etc.

Human Performance is the leadership actions, interactions, behaviours and collaboration that convert organizational potential into capability and capability into performance. In essence it is the mortar that holds these building blocks together and enables your assets to uniquely perform. After all, anything constructed from good quality bricks is only as strong as the weakest patch of mortar.

One of the key jobs you have as a leader is to get the best value possible from the assets under your stewardship. Having a measure for Human Performance enables you to focus your attention on unlocking the untapped potential buried in your organization. This is represented by the dis-cretionary effort deployed – or not – every day by the people who work for you and which is accessed by effective leadership.

We developed our Human Performance Index™ to give leaders a real-time read-out on how well they are utilising the company assets they have already invested in. In essence it is a long overdue leadership productivity improvement tool.

Taking an X-Ray of Your Organisation

Physicians use X-Rays to illuminate parts of the body unseen on the surface and not obvious from exhibited symptoms. The resulting image can only be interpreted by professionals who know what to look for. The HP Index™ is the same.

Imagine the power of an X-Ray of the areas in your organization where human performance challenges are impeding peak performance. Such a tool will show leaders where to focus their time and attention to produce the greatest return on their scarce time, energy and enthusiasm.

To the untrained eye the behaviours and interactions of leaders across the organization look benign enough; after all this is ‘the way things are always done around here’. However, these behaviours, habits and rituals can harbour a pervasive infection that is preventing peak performance from being routinely delivered.

To obtain this unique view requires real-time observations by specialists who are outside your prevailing paradigm and not trapped by the ways of working that are systemic in your organization.

The Clinical Procedure – this is not a ‘mood’ survey

The HP Index™ is formed from systematic analysis of information derived from interacting with – interviewing, engaging, questioning assumptions and observing – an agreed population of your leaders, in real time. By focusing on observable human performance and the link to tangible business results, we move away from attitudes and opinions. Such mood surveys are a ‘moment in time’ snap shot of ‘satisfaction’ often defined differently by as many people as you ask. Mood does not directly relate to organizational results either (a contributing factor for sure, but no more). The HP Index™ enlarges the concept of ‘Engagement’ to ascertain how leadership capabilities are being deployed at key ‘moments of truth’ for your business, in ways that directly and/or indirectly affect business performance.

This is a long way from an anodyne ‘opinion or culture’ survey. It is much deeper thacoloured figures running n that and will result in a useful read-out that identifies the greatest opportunities for improving organizational performance, as it is influenced by human performance in the unique culture that is your organization.

The job of the HP Index™ is to use the diagnosis to prescribe a solution that will ensure your leaders are getting the best return possible on the investment they make in time and energy.