BEST FROM THE WORST AND POTENTIAL NEW NORMS: BLOG NO.9 – Measure Climate, Improve Performance

Blog No.9 – Measure Climate, Improve Performance

Most people will recognise that there is still a long way to go in the world’s struggle to accommodate and end the Coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, many countries are making significant steps forward in starting to manage the ‘accommodate’ phase. In the UK later this week, we expect to experience the largest lifting yet of the constraints of these past three months.

So, it feels like a good time to be concluding this series of Blogs about Performance Climate System. PCS is the analytical tool which quantifiably measures organisational climate and maps it against leadership practise. It presents an actionable roadmap towards performance improvement via optimising both leadership and the climate it fosters.

Performing Throughout Lockdown and Beyond

When we started this series, given the unimaginable disturbance the Coronavirus pandemic had started to cause, it felt highly relevant to discuss how PCS could be a valuable tool to help organisations lead and perform through the ‘lock-down’ and beyond.

In the last couple of months, in some detail, we have defined the concept of organisational ‘climate’. Returning to the first blog introducing this series, I explained that PCS focuses on climate, as the: mood, feel and atmosphere within teams. We correlate climate with leadership, as its key input, and performance, as its primary output. The better the leadership methods and behaviours > the better the climate > the better the performance of that team. In other words, the climate value chain.

We then moved on to look more closely at each of the six main segments of the PCS model: Goals, Roles, Processes, Adaptability, Connection and Resilience. Each of these six segments comprise more granular concepts in what are termed ‘Focus Areas’. In looking at the tool more closely, you will find an additional layer of insight into a team’s maturity and performance: its stage of development (Dr Bruce Tuckman’s model[1]) and the conflict mode (Thomas & Kilmann[2]). PCS also sheds more subjective insight into a team’s climate via a set of free text questions that invite participants to comment on various aspects inside and outside the team.  

Everything I have described here draws together the analysis produced by running a single PCS survey on a team. The survey comprises an online questionnaire, undertaken by every member of a designated team and takes as little as 5 minutes. 

The subsequent results are debriefed either by PCS Practitioners (for PCS Pro) leading to improvement actions or interpreted directly by the team leader (for PCS Lite). 

A single PCS report is useful to shine a light on areas of high-performance and areas requiring support. However, PCS is far more effective when deployed repeatedly over time and scaled across an organisation in order to benchmark leaders and teams and to steer efforts in the right direction, alongside normal organisational change and business as usual evolution.

In exploring PCS further, you will find that it has been developed and refined over 20 years and used over 25,000 times around the world. 

PCS and Getting Back on Track

If (actual) climate change wasn’t sufficiently on everyone’s agenda before the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic struck; it certainly is now. If (organisational) climate change is one of many repercussions of the pandemic for us all to be thinking about – Performance Climate System is a smart, proven and relatively non-invasive way of measuring your organisation’s climate. By measuring team and organisational climate, PCS assesses leadership methods and builds an actionable roadmap towards improving performance and resilience in the future.

You may be actively thinking about how to optimise performance in the ‘new normal’ we are all looking towards. You may be seeking to drive efficiency and performance during what are likely to remain very challenging market conditions. You may be grafting hard at getting things back on track as we emerge from lockdown. Or you may simply believe that the ongoing improvement mindset is a value worth exploring from every angle. For whatever reason, should you wish to know more and explore how PCS could specifically benefit your organisation, don’t hesitate to connect with me directly, or with any of the Performance Climate System team.

Toby Ellison, July 2020

[1]   Tuckman B (1965) “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups” Psychological Bulletin 6

[2]   Thomas KW, Kilmann RH. (1974) Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

Zac's Challenges:

Zac’s tech business is growing rapidly. He’s gone from being a developer with a good idea to now overseeing an ever-expanding team. Zac knows that in order for the business to grow successfully, it needs to stay true to its founding values and his staff need to feel valued and engaged. Zac wants to understand if he and his team are on the same page and he needs to do it quickly and cost effectively.

Zac's PCS Solution

Zac decides to use PCS Lite to get a quick temperature check of how his team are performing and what they think about the business. The PCS Lite report quickly surfaces the fact that his team have lost sight of the organisation’s purpose and goals. Zac realises that he needs to improve his on-boarding processes and help orientate the new team members better in the company culture and vision. 6 months later, Zac uses PCS Lite to check his new onboarding process is working; concludes that the growing team are much better aligned to his vision and are generally operating in a more positive working environment.

Annabel's Challenges:

It’s Annabel’s job to help the Partners in the firm manage their clients and ensure they’re consistently adding value. Recently, Annabel has been asked by one of the Partners to find a tool or framework that the consultants can use to benchmark new clients looking for team and leadership improvement programmes. It needs to be cost-effective, established and reputable and able to be branded with the firm’s own logo.

Annabel's PCS Solution

Annabel recommends PCS Pro to the Senior Partners as it provides an objective measurement of team and leadership climate against which the consultants can build performance improvement programmes. PCS has a good track record, academic validation, excellent training and customer service, so she’s confident that it’s the right tool for the firm’s consultants to use.

Sarah's Challenges:

Sarah has to keep across the multiple training and development needs in the organisation and do it within a tight budget. Recently, Sarah’s been asked to design a L&D programme that improves the staff retention rate and helps staff feel more engaged with the changes happening in the organisation, not least the shift to more flexible working.

Sarah's PCS Solution

Sarah uses PCS to measure how different teams across the organisation are performing and look at any patterns which suggest the need for organisation-wide, leader or team training. Sarah notices that all teams and leaders have a low climate score in the Processes segment. Sarah knows that allocating budget in this area will improve performance. She works with the Senior Management Team to review the organisation’s processes as they transition to more flexible working and designs a training programme to support staff in the transition. She’s helped staff to feel supported, acknowledged and engaged which ultimately drives performance. 

Jim's Challenges:

Jim’s client has a team that’s not performing as well other teams in the organisation. The team has a high staff turnover, sickness and the lack of cohesion is impacting the team’s wellbeing and performance. Jim needs to get to the bottom of why this is happening and design effective coaching interventions which can generate tangible results for his client.

Jim's PCS Solution

Jim uses PCS Pro to measure / benchmark how the team and leader are performing across the 6 segments critical to team performance – Goals, Roles, Processes, Adaptability, Connection and Resilience. He can immediately see the disparity in Goals, Processes and Connection between the leader’s perception and those of her team. He uses this information to build a coaching programme designed align team and leader. After 6 months, the team seems to be more settled and productive. Jim remeasures using PCS Pro – the results show the client the effectiveness of his coaching intervention.