Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Paraplegic Coach

I'm reading this great book called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It's no secret I'm a big fan of these kinds of books. The problems that exist in a workplace often translate back into your personal life and vice versa. Many times, there are things that target a crisis at work and yet, you can take the recommendations and bring them into your own life.

However, you can also be paralyzed by the very essence of organization excellence books. Becoming almost obsessive-compulsive with reading as many as possible can actually cause more of a problem.

My last company was fanatical about these types of books. Each month, they would announce the newest book that would take the organization off the map in regards to income earned. While, I Enjoyed Myself Immensely at this job (snort), the very idea of having to read another book and NOT apply it to the company became ludicrous.

Like all businesses, we read Good to Great by Jim Collins. I loved this book. It was so popular around our company that we'd quote certain key phrases. "You are so in the wrong seat on the bus." "Hey, is that part of our hedgehog concept?" "Dude, you fly-wheel is down." The company culture changed... but only in our verbiage and not our execution.

We read Selling the Invisible to better understand the customer mindset. We read Execution to improve the workflow process. And we read Creating Customer Evangelists to help us learn how the top companies handled customer retention. Each time we'd finish a book, there would be small teams created to talk about what was learned and ways we could implement those lessons. And each time, nothing would ever come if it because we'd be on to the next book.

Next we went into TopGrading and that was going to change the way we hired employees. It was decided that this method, which included up to three days of interviewing depending upon the position, would let the best hires rise to the top and become part of the organization. Ironically, they never looked at who would be supervising these star players and these new folks felt very unsatisfied with the lack of direction they were given by substandard supervisors

For the record, I endorse all of these books, just not all in the same six months.

All of this comes from the top down. The CEOs follow a personal executive coaching plan. While again I support this, I believe coaching strategies should compliment your life, not take it over.

When I first became a director, this certain CEO (I’ll call him Pierre for the story) called me over to see how things were going. I explained the goals we were shooting for as a group and how the whole team was meeting together to work towards next year’s initiatives.

Instead of praise, he said, “Are you using the Strategy Circle?” He reached over to a nearby shelf and produced an 11 x 17 piece of paper. On it, were green rectangles, pink circles and blue triangles. It seriously looked as though Lucky Charms had vomited up a management plan.

Use this and it will help you solve all your troubles,” Pierre said. I felt as though I had gone to Poo-Ella, the fortune teller.

Management also had to title certain days on our calendars as well. We had concentration days, bumper days and liberated days. (I’ve changed the names a bit as not to infringe on the company that actually charges for this amazing service.)

Two weeks after my department’s meeting, Pierre stopped me in the hallway to see how my meeting went. “Pierre, you’d be so pleased at the marketing campaigns and aggressive goals we set.

He looked at me confused. “Well, okay... but I was more interested to see how the Strategy Circle went.

I paused and then answered honestly, “It helped us really see what was truly important.

Weird that 6 out of the 7 people in the department don't work there any more.



Blogger Kevin & Kristy's First Home said...

May I just say that Pierre is described so darn well.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I knew you love that one. LOL Sometimes it's the worst memories you just can't let go of.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can not recommend the topgrading process highly enough! It is astounding what one can accomplish once its been made clear to you that how you interacted with your 8th grade science teacher has EVERYTHING to do with reaching your professional goal of becoming an A+ focus group leader... (or at least that's what the son-in-law of the author of the book told me).

8:53 AM  

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