IF YOU suspect most of your business and team meetings are a waste of time and ‘those same conversations’ do not drive better performance – you are right. This is conclusive in long-term research by business coaching and leadership group AltusQ’s EngagementCapability survey.
“Over the past three years, over 3000 businesses have responded to our Engagement Capability survey and told us exactly that,” AltusQ director and coach, Chris Pezzimenti said.
“Think about it. Businesses amass their most experienced, talented, expensive people and sit them around to talk about what? The P&L? Sales reports? Cutting costs?
“Throw in gossip, healthy doses of deflection, delaying tactics and blame, and there’s your typical management meeting.”
Mr Pezzimenti said a series of questions he often asked business leaders highlighted how rarely management teams considered fundamental issues:
“What is it we’re really trying to achieve beyond making money?”
“What do we need to measure to know we’re achieving ‘it’?”
“What behaviours are non-negotiable in our quest?”
“What’s blocking us from getting ‘there’?”
Mr Pezzimenti said most business leaders recognise that a good deal of management meeting time is taken up with anything but such core questions.
“Which is not to say there aren’t other important topics, just not as important as these,” he said.
“Every bit of research on the topic of Employee Engagement, including our own, points to the fact that Australians are largely disengaged at work with very few ‘true believers’. That means that the search for better business performance will not be found in the same conversations you’ve always had.
“Businesses with high levels of engagement outperform all others on every commercial metric. The most common traits of these businesses were having a clear sense of purpose, meaningful KPIs (key performance indicators) and a culture that is alive and well-managed.”
Mr Pezzimenti said finding meaning beyond the profit motive “is called Purpose”.
“It’s not Vision or Mission. It’s Purpose,” he said. “It is the singularly most important foundation your business can be built upon. That is, ‘Why are we here doing what we’re doing?’ ‘What do we believe in?’ It’s what drives you. It’s what attracts like-minded people. It’s the story you tell.”
Mr Pezzimenti said developing such a set of meaningful KPIs “is really not as shocking as you might think”.
“The biggest sleeper issue in this regard is what often drives disengagement,” Mr Pezzimenti said. “That is, too many employees are unclear of how they will be measured and rewarded.
“Tip: employees are much less scared of the KPI conversation than what their managers are.”
Mr Pezzimenti said the last of the three winning strategies AltusQ emphasises is developing a culture that defines behaviour and is easy to manage.
“First things first; your culture cannot be expressed as one-word values that run to a list of typically five,” he said.
“They mean different things to different people. Spend the time and effort to truly explore what values and behaviours need to be alive in your business and what rituals and practices will bring them alive.
“Storytelling, the language you instil and your visual identity all contribute to the ‘way things get done around here’.”
Mr Pezzimenti advised business leaders to regularly ask those five questions and change not only the focus of meetings, but also their real value.
* AltusQ is an Industry Expert member of Victorian Leaders, the organisation helping to mentor and develop the next generation of leading businesses based in Victoria.