For most organisations in most industries, the primary means of delivering output is their people: people organised into bounded teams and within a defined organisational construct. It’s ironic, therefore, that much spend and effort over the last 50-years has been focused on tuning systems and processes rather than creating the conditions for people to deliver effectively today and improve their delivery tomorrow. This overlooked opportunity is even more perplexing given the growing body of evidence on the features of effective leadership and good practice.
It’s still the case that many leaders are not trained to lead but instead inherit or are appointed to a leadership role based on time served plus a core set of functional skills. Thankfully, there is a growing realisation amongst more forward-thinking organisations that leaders and teams need to be supported as well as directed.
Two approaches that have historically been used in isolation relate to team climate and alignment. Performance Climate System (PCS) and Mirror Mirror are typically used on teams that desire to improve productivity and well-being. Whilst they look at the team through different lenses, they are both focused on the same outcome and follow similar methodologies. Below is an overview of each system, how they work and the benefits they provide together with a summary of how their dual use could be a genuine multiplier in the pursuit of high-performance in a team.
What is climate and why is it important?
Team climate is an academically validated means of understanding the mood or atmosphere in a team. Climate is often confused with culture which is understandable; unlike culture, climate is a bounded concept, can be quickly changed and can be easily and objectively measured and tracked over time.
Climate is largely determined by the leader and is a significant factor of how well the team will perform and cope with change. By measuring the climate within teams across an organisation, it is possible to both understand where to direct improvement effort and investment as well as identifying pockets of good practice to codify across all teams. Often a climate measure will uncover the need for a range of interventions, some minor like operational processes, some more significant like the alignment.
What do we mean by alignment and why is it important?
Alignment is when all forces move in the same direction to minimize energy loss and maximize outcomes. In an organizational setting, this means people work from shared mental models about their purpose, goals, and behaviours to deliver better together. Alignment is not about getting everyone to think the same thing, it is about compatibility.
Conversely, misalignment is conflict between how people see their goals or how to deliver on those. These conflicts present risk to the business. They can be large or small, significant or subtle, visible or invisible. The impacts can be huge, as summarised in research from Box & Platts, 2005:
“Problems caused by misalignment include confusion; waste of time, money and opportunity; diminished productivity; demotivation of individuals and teams; internal conflicts, power struggles; and ultimately project failure as well as resulting in time and energy spent: doubting, conspiring, guessing or gossiping – when that same energy could be deployed in moving an organisation forward.”
The two approaches and how they work
PCS climate assessments comprise an on-line questionnaire which generates a detailed we-based and interactive report. The PCS Pro report is designed to be used by an accredited facilitator who works with the team to understand the causes of identified high and low climate scores and then derive improvement actions; the PCS Lite report is designed to be consumed by the leader themselves and includes a rich mixture of recommended improvement actions and reference links. The optimal use of PCS is where is becomes a business as usual dataset to help understand how teams ‘are feeling’ and what support the leader and team members require to become effective, efficient and content.
With Mirror Mirror, Team members are asked a series of questions about their whole context and the team behaviours. When the responses are put together and compared, the common ground and differences become clear. The viewpoint of each individual is not relevant from this perspective because alignment is between people. The alignment gaps then emerge, which could be about strategy, collaboration, or support – and usually all three – all shown in simple visualizations. This allows leaders and teams to pinpoint and address the disconnects. Misunderstandings about the strategic frame can be corrected. Participants are better able to connect to the strategy and organization, and how it relates to their work. They can discuss what specifically needs to change in order for them to deliver better together – which is the process of building better shared mental models. The process is facilitated by trained Mirror Mirror practitioners, safely and constructively.
We believe that to optimize business performance, leaders need to be equipped and supported to lead; and organisations need to ensure that every means of delivery is aligned to a common set of goals and objectives. Both of these foundations should be established and reviewed based on robust models and objective data.
PCS helps organisations understand culture, via the notion of climate, and objectively measure the impact of leaders on the performance potential of their teams. The PCS solution comprises a dashboard and an administrative system and two climate assessment tools: PCS Pro and PCS Lite. PCS Pro provides an in-depth analysis of the climate within a team and insight on how to make improvements; PCS Lite provides a snapshot measure of climate, detailed improvement recommendations and is designed to be consumed without external support.
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Mirror Mirror aligns teams to pull together and deliver on the strategy. We have two products:
- Mirror Mirror Full Picture: 1 hour per person plus a whole team day
- Mirror Mirror Quick Scan: 30 minutes per person and a half team day.
Both can be delivered remotely or in person. For more information see: www.mirrormirrorhub.com