When analytics makes it easy to be a leader

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As a leader you always need to keep your ear to the ground, identify, analyze and act, to create the best conditions in your team. Sometimes you feel there is something going on, but you can’t put your finger on it and you are not sure what to do.

All of a sudden a conflict arises and you need to take action. Either you handle it yourself or you need to take in professional help. And, you need to find the root cause of the conflict.

But what if…

You as a leader can augment your intuition and get help to identify root causes to your challenges before it is too late?

A few months ago I was discussing the measurements and analysis made by Prindit with a CEO that is using the tool in his organization. The discussion quickly focused on the atmosphere. He had perceived the atmosphere as quite poor in some parts of the organization and wanted to get help analyzing the root cause.

Focusing on this specific issue we started to look at the measurements and realized that the perception was correct and during the last few months the level had gone down. It wasn’t bad, but the trend was clear, in a few months a crisis would appear.

So, this was really an issue to handle and to find the root cause. And this is where the real value comes in when you gather data continuously over time from all employees in your organization. We can find patterns and correlations from analyzing the data collected over time and through this make new valuable insights for leaders.

When doing the analysis we identified a few strong correlations with “good atmosphere”, and together with the context knowledge about the organization (from the CEO), we could quickly identify the main root causes of the problem.

To bring up the atmosphere back on track the leadership team needed to give clarity of what they expect from the teams and team members, but also increase support for employees in relation to the expectations put on them.

The root cause was a leadership issue and not an employee issue. This was both surprising to the CEO and relief, now he knew how to handle it and was confident about acting based on this analysis.

So, by adding clarity and support this organization could steer away from a crisis and create a good atmosphere at work in just a few weeks.

Do you know the root cause for your challenges?

Anders Wikström, senior researcher RISE and founder of Prindit

 

Habits to boost involvement

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As a leader, you are supposed to support your team in many ways when demands like reporting and control escalate you might forget WHY your position exists and the basic needs your team members have. When looking at some of the top organizations today we see habits of leaders that support both individuals and teams. What is interesting about these habits is that they are also connected to how the human brain works.

But are there really habits that we can learn to master that makes our organizations more successful? The short answer is YES. But let’s elaborate a bit on it.

Let’s look into some of the behaviours; there is a habit of being a good coach where you should be able to give specific and constructive feedback. You should also express interest in your team members by getting to know the people behind the employee. Moreover, empowering your team by giving freedom and being accessible for support is another important habit. And, last but not least, you need to be a good communicator by stimulating dialogue and both listen to and share information.

Sounds easy, right? But how easy is it to continuously have these behaviours in both good and bad business, and what can you as a leader do to develop and maintain these habits?

Well, you as a leader need to ensure involvement from your team. Likewise, you, as a leader, need to be involved in what your team is doing and team members need to be involved in each other’s work.

This can be done by several different activities. We have seen effects when; openness is created, challenging each other’s, sharing insights and giving feedback. But also when we do things together, even though it’s not required of us. Why not shadow a colleague for one day, both fun and developing for both parts?

By taking time and effort to be interested in what others are doing and why they do it increases both involvement and trust. And, as far as we have seen, employees are interested to be more involved in the workplace in general, and in their colleagues work in specific. But it will only happen if they are given the opportunity.

And, there is great joy in working in a place where people are involved in each other’s work!

However, there are also some basic human needs that you as a leader can facilitate that will support involvement. The third step in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is “social belonging”, it is interpersonal and described as a sense of belonging and acceptance in a team. And the fourth step is “esteem”, where a deep desire to be accepted and valued by others is central to ensure a stable self-esteem.

To maintain high levels of basic human needs in everyday work demands a continuous monitoring and dialogue for most teams and workplaces. We have also seen that by having a dialogue about conditions at work we become good at creating good conditions to work in.

As you can understand leadership is essential to make involvement become part of your workplace atmosphere. And by securing the basic human needs we also secure conditions to build trust.

We have observed that when big changes happen, and as we all know they have a tendency to do so now and then, a team with high level of trust and involvement get back on track and adapt to new conditions much faster than other teams.

Involvement shapes everyone’s knowledge and understanding of the big picture and makes them act accordingly. And thanks to trust it’s more likely that obstacles in these processes will be seen as common challenges since people tend to cooperate more when trust is built. So trust and involvement is the very foundation for an excellent work atmosphere.

So what about the connection to the human brain?

There are a few basic behaviours that stimulate the oxytocin level in our brain, oxytocin is a brain chemical produced when trust is built up. In relation to our interest, we highlight a few of the behaviours leaders can use to foster trust.

If you as a leader can recognize excellence, induce challenge stress and give autonomy for your team members you build trust, but also maintain basic human needs and develop involved employees.

Returning to the “WHY” you as a leader is needed we can now give you some tips to reflect upon.
– Recognise excellence in your team, and remember to find excellence in all your team members since it enforces the self-esteem and highlights their specific value in the team.

Induce challenge stress by assigning a difficult but achievable task to your team or introduce activities that bring challenges to the team, could be a competition of some kind.

– Let the members of your team do their tasks without you micro managing them. Give them the freedom to decide when, how and with whom they should do their tasks.

If you can do these things you will get an involved team that builds trust and enjoy working with you and with each other.

Good luck

Anders Wikström and Anders Gistrand

 

Why Reflection Can Make You Succeed With Your New Year’s Resolutions 

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Wow. 2016 has come to an end, even though it feels like it was summer just a few weeks ago. It is that time of the year again when most of us make new year’s resolutions about becoming better persons, creating new habits and setting new personal goals. But I can’t help looking back at the past year and wonder where all time disappeared. What new year’s resolution’s did I decide on last time? Did I really do all those things I promised my self? Continue reading

Why Your Brain is a Danger to Innovation and Employee Engagement

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A few weeks ago, I took some time off from work and flew down to Greece for holiday. For me, this means catching up time on a lot of readings. It also gave me time for reflection, something that is valuable to my work as a researcher. I always come home from holidays with a new, fresh mind and, best of all – new angles on innovation from all kinds of fields.

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The Art of Giving and Receiving Feedback

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Feedback is a powerful tool to help a team perform better and to continuously improve ways of working and learning. Research show that companies where feedback is used efficiently has higher productivity and better results than companies that don’t. But as we all know, feedback can be quite tricky and it’s more difficult than we think to give and receive feedback. Continue reading

Why Giving Feedback Is So Much Harder Than You Think

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A while ago I went to a lecture with Simon Elvnäs, a Swedish KTH researcher in leadership behavior, who shared some really interesting findings from his study that made me question a lot of things that I thought I knew about leadership. Continue reading

What You Need to Know About the Dynamics of Innovation Climate

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At this time of the summer I always get so amazed by the power in my garden when lemons, tomatoes and cucumbers are ready for harvest. The basil, thyme and rosemary have been ready since long. I have tried to create different climate zones in my garden so that I can have all my favorite plants in one garden. But what is it that makes this work? What is the perfect climate for plants to flourish?
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