Execution through empowerment brings lasting results

Once you have transformed your strategy into a story, the next step is to empower your personnel.

A wise philosopher once said: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Okay, so this wise philosopher was Yoda from Star Wars. But you have to admit, the old Jedi Master had a point. As a business leader, you want to execute. You want to make sure that what you set out to do, you also finish.

There’s another famous quote that is often attributed to both Lord Kelvin or Peter Drucker: “What gets measured gets managed.” Alas, this quote is only half-true. Yes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure, but not everything that can be measured can also be managed. For example, you can measure results, but you can’t manage them.

Results can’t be managed. Actions can.

Results are a function of what happened in the past. Therefore, results can’t be managed. Actions can. And it is your actions today that determine your results tomorrow, next month or next fiscal year.

”We are especially satisfied that we can now follow-up actions on a weekly level with the help of the BEAT Change Management Platform. We started using BEAT so that the agreed actions really turn into daily behavior. With the help of BEAT Impact Map, we identified the most important cause-effect relationships from actions to results and then turned these actions into tasks in the BEAT App. People are really active and share pictures of their workdays. We also share videos regularly in the media library to inspire new ideas. We set a growth goal of 10% and we reached it,” says Marko Hiltunen from Holiday Club, the leading ownership vacation company in Europe.

 

 

Once you transform your strategy into a story and that story into actions, you are directly able to manage the very thing that will eventually create the results you are looking for.

Actions either get done or they don’t. And the great thing about actions is that we have 100% control to our own actions. By ensuring you do the right things, results will eventually come.

Ask the people how it should be done

However, execution isn’t merely a matter of telling people what to do. It’s not unusual to hear about how employees are resistant to change. If employees feel like work is thrust upon them from above, they will find it hard to relate to the task. It’s not that they don’t want to help the company succeed, but employees can’t get on board unless they feel empowered to do so.

”It was important for us to strengthen shared understanding and ensure a common language. We deepened managers’ understanding of how to lead people and change and agreed the most critical actions – regarding also leadership. These shared moments have strengthened our team spirit,” Hiltunen continues.

You can tell your people what you are expecting of them and why that’s important, but it’s better to let them have a say as to how that should happen.

If people are empowered to reflect on their work, if their attention is directed towards planning their work better, if they feel like they are a part of a larger community working towards a common goal, then people will love striving for ever better results.

“We began work by discussing with the supervisors what the new organization could achieve and how people could be managed better. We then summarized this down to form an everyday package of management practices,” explains Lassi Juntunen, a director in HOK-Elanto, the largest regional co-operative store chain in the capital area of Finland.

 

 

And when you can connect what people do to positive business outcomes, it’s easier for people to see how what they do week in, week out, is actually valuable.

”In terms of operations and atmosphere, the results have been better than good. I don’t think our work together could have gone any more smoothly. We quickly shook off our old habits because we had made concrete agreements on what supervisors would do in their new roles. The staff satisfaction survey showed clear signs of how the new operating models have improved results. The flow of information had improved dramatically. In addition to this, the atmosphere and staff satisfaction, in general, have shown clear improvement. At the same time, we have boosted our staff efficiency. Sales per working hour and personnel costs in relation to net sales have improved. It’s wonderful that the general atmosphere has improved at the same time as efficiency has increased. It really has been possible to do things in a smarter way than before, rather than just by running faster,” Juntunen concludes.

It is difficult to improve quality without quantity

For most leaders, execution also means doing things better, i.e. increasing the quality of work. This can cause companies to incentivize – and train – their employees not to fail. But over the long haul, the pursuit of perfection will lead to decreasing, not increasing quality. This happens for two main reasons.

One

People stop trying to go the extra mile for the customer and each other. Why? Because they’ve been trained to avoid failing. They are rewarded only for the right results, not the right actions. Thus, every exception is a potential failure. However, you can’t have exceptional results without exceptions. What are you rewarding your people about?

Two

People don’t actually learn in theory. For learning to be possible, we need to know what it is that we are learning. And that requires failing. Quality is achieved only through goal-oriented quantity followed by feedback and reflection. The thing is, you’ll never reach quality unless you have sufficient quantity. Do you have a system for this in your company?

BEAT supports the change

BEAT Change Management Platform helps people to practice on a weekly basis and reflect their experiences. For example at Kiinteistömaailma, one of the leading real-estate company in Finland, ”it works as a tool for strengthening and repeating the topical themes through weekly tasks. We have also added videos regarding the current themes. I feel this is a very good tool to support change,” says Erkki Heikkinen.

 

 

Once people and supervisors are brought together in the common platform, supporting and giving feedback about the weekly actions becomes easier.

”I have been especially pleased that us supervisors have walked by people’s side and kept ourselves up to date about progress. BEAT Change Management Platform has been a good place to share own thoughts. People were also reminded of the most important actions through regular phone calls. The idea was to check if people had done what was agreed and if not, what were the challenges. At the end of the phone call, the necessary actions to get things done were agreed. These calls have been appreciated. It was pleasant to come back from a holiday when someone reminded you where to continue from. People have identified development areas in their own work and now we have a good drive to take things forward!” explaings Iiris Puro from Suomenselän Osuuspankki, a co-operative bank of OP Financial Group, which is one of the largest financial companies in Finland.

 

 

Develop, test, measure and repeat

Samuel Beckett wrote: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” And this is also the wisdom behind BEAT. BEAT’s focus on execution isn’t simply geared towards doing things, it’s also very much about learning through doing things.

When you do more, you’ll learn more (from either your successes or your shortcomings). When you learn more, you’ll do better.

In order to get the results you want, focus on leading the actions that bring the results. When your employees feel heard and know that their efforts are seen and appreciated, they feel empowered to do better work. When they do more, they’ll learn more – and do better.