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The Derek Hendrikz blog mostly relates to issues of organisational leadership, management, relevance and performance, but there are times when it does not. This is an interactive forum where we debate relevant and not-so-relevant issues… No holy cow’s kept alive here, thus please say it as it is (according to your world)…

Does Team Building Really Work?

Does Team Building Really Work?

By Derek Hendrikz 

 

Organizations, worldwide, often spend vast amounts on team building interventions, but are mostly unable to prove any significant return on investment. Although these interventions are usually great fun and participants find activities highly entertaining; the question remains whether such team building was really worth money spent? Questions such as, “Are we a more effective functioning team?” or “Are we now more results driven?” are mostly answered with positive excitement right after the intervention. But, test these questions three months post-hype, and the answers may seem far less optimistic.

Organizational development consultants are repeatedly confronted by EXCO teams to develop and initiate interventions that bring about real and actual change. This will stay a major challenge; one in my experience, that can be vanquished if team building is an outcomes-based intervention. The implication of outcomes-based team building is not about what delegates do during such team building, but rather about how we could utilize and process experiential activity to resolve dysfunctional workplace dynamics.

 

Where, for example, workplace culture needs remedy, we would provide employees with an experiential activity, and observe how they apply organizational values or a specifically selected value during the activity. Participants will have fun and experience camaraderie during the activity; and that is good. However, the consultant will see fun as a side effect of achieving something that has much greater effect, which is to solve a pre-defined problem. In the above example, dysfunctional workplace behaviour, resulting in unsanctioned organizational culture needs remedy. In this case, the consultant will carefully analyse team behaviour and give feedback accordingly. This process is facilitated and not instructed. The team needs to become conscious of their ‘blind spots’ as opposed to being told how to behave. This process of experience, reflection, learning and applied remedy will normally continue for about two to three-days.

Of course, it would be incredibly naive to think that any team could sort out their problems in two consecutive days. OD consultants might be group dynamic experts, but they are certainly not magicians. The best we can do is to make a team aware of that which causes their problems, and then guide them to practically resolve this back at the workplace. But, the real ‘fix’ will take place in absence of the consultant. It is for this reason that organizational values form a foundational basis of any team development intervention. Collective values is the only possible benchmark against which to measure ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour. Where team problems have escalated to a point where it significantly affects goals and process outcomes, I recommended to rather contract a team coach than to run a once-off intervention.

The following table highlights some of the major differences between traditional team building and outcomes-based team development interventions...

Traditional Team Building

Outcomes Based Team Development

Activity Based.

Outcomes Based.

Results are measured against the amount of fun that a group has.

Results are measured against changed behavior at the workplace.

Consultant has a short term relationship with the client.

Consultant has a long term relationship with the client.

Usually a once-off intervention.

Part of a continuous development process.

Little time spent with the client, before and after the intervention.

Consultant spends lots of time on behavioral analysis before and after the team building event.

Approach is superficial, with focus on having fun, entertainment, adrenaline and excitement.

Focus is on the development of a relationship; involving pre-analysis, follow-up and impact assessment.

"Immediate gratification' approach, focused on obtaining favorable evaluations right after the event.                                                

Functional approach, focused on attaining outcomes and moving the group towards optimal functioning through constant conditioning.

In outcomes-based programmes, the whole intervention is focused on attaining pre-negotiated outcomes. Activities are mere vehicles in getting the group to a pre-determined destination. Learning and growth takes place during the processing of an experience, which the facilitator presents to the team. Strategically, the facilitator will link such experience to the groups operational functioning. This learning is then practically applied during a next experience. This cycle continues to the point of renewed behaviour. It is for this reason that it is better to have less team development goals than having more. In my experience, more than three / four intervention goals is very hard to achieve.

Typical phases of an outcomes based team development intervention will include…

  • Pre-assessments (questionnaires, individual interviews & focus groups)

  • Setting up a team development plan

  • Team development interventions (structural reorganization, strategic planning and alignment, managerial development, team development, intra- and interpersonal relations)

  • Continuous follow-up and impact assessments sessions to determine the impact of the development as well as further development needs

  • Continuously working with appropriate group processes and dynamics (making meetings, planning sessions, etc. more effective)

In conclusion I advocate that team building can definitely work, provided that the sponsor has a clear idea of what he/she wants to achieve, and that a programme is devised to specifically address these pre-determined outcomes. Where you increase the developmental focus of a team building intervention, the long term impact will correspondingly increase.

This article is adjusted from my 2003 article “Outcomes-based Team Development”.

 

© 02 November 2015

Strategic Leadership and Organisational Performance Specialist

www.derekhendrikz.com

  

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© (c) 2015 Derek Hendrikz Consulting

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Do KPI’s actually work?

Do KPI’s actually work?

By Derek Hendrikz

 

If you do a google search on whether KPI-based systems work or not, the amount of ‘against’ arguments definitely outweigh the ‘for’ arguments. More alarming is that most arguments in favour of KPI-based systems are made by companies who sell these systems.

 

Over the past 20 years I have touched base with more than 170 companies, and could not really find users of KPI-based PMS’s (performance management systems) who actually has confidence in its application. In fact, in most cases it’s seen as a necessary evil. Mostly it is strategic leaders who, after a strategy formulation session, demands that strategy must be translated to action. Of course, nobody in the company knows how to do this, and then balanced scorecard or other systems are implemented to link strategy to human performance. In the process a huge consulting and training industry is stimulated and, in my mind, this produces very little results.

 

Now, the problem does not lie with having Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). The term basically says that there are indicators of performance that is key and that we should focus on such. Nothing wrong with that! Thus we start looking for the problem with how we define KPI’s or what their characteristics should be. Still, after all the research and money spent, it ends up being something that everyone within the organisation hates…

 

Due to my intensive involvement with strategy development; I have been compelled to grapple with this problem for many years now. And it finally seems that I have gained some comprehension to this conundrum. You see the problem never is, nor ever was with the concept, but rather with the belief construct or philosophy that drives the concept. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having performance indicators. The problem is your perception of how to locate those indicators.

 

All performance management systems that I have ever viewed has a basic process. This process entails creating a strategy, defining a structure, creating job profiles for such structure, developing KPA’s (key performance areas) that link strategic objectives with job profiles, and then creating key performance indicators that assigns specific performance to each job profile.

 

Although the above methodology seems sound; it has a critical error or rather a fundamental flaw, which is that we attempt to manage the performance of people without understanding the process within which such person must perform. Reality is that no person can perform outside a process. Therefor all we need to do is manage the performance of a process and assign people to tasks within such process. Where an employee is linked to the inputs, outputs and behaviour of a process his or her performance is already defined.

 

Why on earth would you want a job description if you have a well-defined process, or KPI’s where processes have clearly defined inputs, outputs and behaviour? In fact, even a structure is no more than the mapping out of process relationships; a budget no more than an understanding of the shared fixed cost between processes and the variable cost within a process; a managerial position no more than authority over parent and child processes and asset management no more than understanding which non-human resources are consumed within a process. In effect an organisation is no more than the defining of process relationships and targets are no more than the quantification of process results.

 

Are most companies barking up the wrong tree? Yes they are! Is this costing a lot of money? Absolutely!

 

It is time to realise that managerial models have not evolved at the same pace as with most other disciplines. In reality, we are so far behind that it’s too late for evolution. We now need a revolution. In this light I advocate that we should forget about restructuring, reengineering, KPI’s, KPA’s, Job grading systems, structural development and all the other nonsense that goes with this. It’s a trap! We have created experts in HR, Supply Chain, Strategy, Finance, Governance and many other areas that specialise in the solving of problem complexity; but at the cost of failing to understand context complexity.

 

In conclusion, all the answers you need for absolutely anything within you organisation is captured within the processes that construct your organisation. The intelligence is there - it creates the genetic structure of your organisation. All you have to do is define it, quantify it and measure it. Everything else is simply a result of calculating and presenting the variables defined within process families… In my Strategic Leadership Master Class we thoroughly work with the art and science of understanding, defining, quantifying and practically applying organisational processes…

 

© 01 June 2015

 

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Copyright

© 2015 Derek Hendrikz Consulting

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