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We have often believed that tough times need tough action, right? Wrong! When things are in turmoil we are told to “toughen up”, change strategy, downsize, restructure and more. Speaking about tough and turbulent times – the world has become a never-ending flat screen of reality TV. From performance, politics, economics, social issues, education issues – take your pick – to Trump, Brexit, political protests and bombings, The Department of Statistics recently revealed SA lost 15,000 jobs in first quarter of this year ALONE and to compound the dilemma – we have the highest HIV rate in the world.
Create a performance meme
We have been bombarded in the past decades by a so-called “war on talent”. Every organisation has been scuttling to find talent, ever since. In my opinion, I am not sure whether we’ve truly been successful in retaining and engaging our talent. Given the volatile global world – how do we achieve organisational performance and effectiveness by creating a meme for sustainable results? This is all quite daunting… What do I do? Where do I start?
What we need now is a performance meme… A belief that we can bring about change in performance (even in tough times!) by spreading it throughout the performance culture of the organisation. After all, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘meme’ as follows: “An idea, behaviour, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.”
8 Factors to focus on in a volatile world
Maria Ramos, CEO of Barclays Africa recently spoke about the fragility of the world and how we should in these volatile times focus our strategies and attention on the indicators below. I have expanded on her points to provide you with the perfect platform to develop a performance meme:
- Navigate complexity: Be fearless but have a plan and execute the plan in the present world.
- Support innovation: Activate an innovation plan. Make it part of the culture of your organisation.
- Embrace change: Declare a war on performance and be bold with change. This needs courage and will necessitate a deep re-look at current leadership capability and competence.
- Build resilience: Resilience is a difficult one. Create an environment of “we will survive no matter what”.
- Continue learning: Low human development creates vulnerability and poverty. Get back to basics with a talent development strategy and plan – it is not all about technology.
- Shift impact and measurement: Create a culture of measurement and start with big data – do you really have analysis and interpretation competence at all levels in the organisation?
- Move to sustainability: This is not only about CSI. Every change intervention or change management programme will bring about new results and outcomes, but are these really sustainable?
- Value people: This will translate into specific employee engagement strategies and plans and above all, regular and authentic communication and information sharing.
Practise a performance meme
A holistic performance belief is embedded in systems thinking; a trusted theory we are all too familiar with. You need to think, do, commit and change your performance practices within a context of truthful and ethical communication and leadership. This will be the first step in achieving a performance meme. The diagram below indicates all the elements needed to create and unpack your personal organisational performance meme:
4 Steps to get you started…
- We think: Change the performance culture and vision regarding a “war on performance”. This means you have to change direction by possibly forgetting the past and plan in the present for the new thinking.
- We do: Design and implement new plans which are based on holistic performance so that you do not randomly implement irrelevant activities which are time and money wasters.
- We commit: Design and deliver sustainable performance solutions – and not fall victim to vendor fads and one-leader-wonders.
- We change: Measure results and outcomes as well as evaluating impact. This will allow for the continuous refreshing of plans and strategies that don’t work.
How do you achieve a performance meme?
Step 1: Reach out to each other by partnering and standing together to deliver customer-centricity.
Step 2: Focus on results and outcomes throughout the value chain. Start with the customer in mind and end with the customer in mind.
Step 3: Add value by doing worthy performance sustainably.
Step 4: Focus on holistic performance without wasting time on fruitless activities.
10 Questions (you must!) ask…
- Does my organisation truly live a courageous performance culture?
- Do we encourage innovative leadership and intrapreneurship? Or is it something on the side like an ideas or suggestion box?
- Does my organisation support big data? And do we have the capability to interpret and apply the data findings?
- Do we have leadership and management capability and competence to lead and manage in turbulent, volatile times?
- Are we courageous enough to declare a “war on performance”?
- How ready are we to change our performance meme? Can we convince employees we will create a new belief about performance?
- Do we practice holistic performance? Do we look at all the systems that positively and negatively contribute to performance? Or are we stuck in a “one system” view and blame staff when performance drops?
- Does my organisation have a back-to-basics talent development programme?
- Do we have a customer-focused sustainability strategy and plan which is performance-based?
- Does my organisation measure the right things?
Right! By now you will have an idea about what your own personal performance meme could be. Which means there’s only one thing left to do… Go viral with it!