Get Agreement To Move Your Agenda Forward


Last week I was in Michigan giving a presentation to a group of leaders about the importance of adopting universally understood leadership language. This notion of leadership language was preceded by commonly asked question of managers across industries: “How can you get the concept of engagement to show up in behavior and performance of associates and team members?”

The short answer I gave was practice.

Providing leaders of teams with a common language to talk about performance and behavior expectations is half the battle. It’s the “secret sauce” for getting team buy-in. And once you have a common language, everyone has to practice using it, in order for there to be a common measure of performance.

Some organizations use assessment tools to establish behavioral norms.

For example, using behavioral interviewing tools, pulse surveys, personality and/or problem-solving tests to begin establishing a set of expectations from potential employees. And once they are on the team, organizational norms are further reinforced by training modules.

Below is a partial list of tools that organizations can use to help develop a common language and shared values amongst team members:

Regardless of the tools selected, each of these assessments offer unique approaches to establish organizational language that, if adopted, can serve as foundational blocks for determining the types of behaviors that are expected in your organization. And if those blocks are set, they can then be used to inform the written and spoken materials that describe the culture your organization hopes to display.


For example, what do you mean when you things like: “I want my associates to be more engaged.” or “Our teams are operating in silos.” or “We lack good communication in our organization.”? It’s these types of assessment tools that can narrow the definitions of the terms you want to be a part of your organization’s lexicon.

Finally, when your organization’s “cultural artifacts” are on display, you will need “ambassadors” that exemplify the qualities needed to succeed in your culture. These are people that walk the walk, talk the talk and are able to translate the nuances that form your unique culture. And this is where finding support from outside your organization can be a competitive advantage.

While applying the tools noted above can be straightforward, getting an accurate interpretation of the results of the assessments is often done best by people outside the organization. The role of a change management consultant, for example, is to be able to help leadership see how well or poorly new language is taking hold with an organization. That same consultant must also be able to provide a set of measures that can track the team’s adherence to the new language being used to change culture.


All of this work is designed to help companies identify, validate, practice and improve ways of engaging employees, who in turn represent your organization’s values to your customers. Further, it provides managers & supervisors (often considered the most important roles within organizations) with actionable data to move the needle on engagement in your company.

The more employees understand, appreciate and internalize your company’s unique language, the better equipped they are to help others understand and appreciate your company.


Why Organizations Need Process Frameworks

Most any organization that you encounter is likely to have a process for virtually any activity. That framework is often viewed as an outward manifestation of an organization's culture. 

How often have you heard the phrase "That's just how we do it here."? I've found that responses like that are usually a sneak peek into what it must be like to be a part of that organization. It is also a kind of leading indicator to a business' process framework. In short, its a way to gauge how groups choose to solve problems. 

In the lexicon of Continuous Improvement Process Design work, a process framework is a way to visualize the effectiveness of a process by employing three distinct sets of tools: 

  • Process Definition Systems: Pre-specification materials like process maps & checklists that help practitioners with problem identification, problem measurement and the development of process designs.
  • Process Management Systems: Root Cause Analysis findings that signal & surface problems, allow for rapid experimentation and utilize countermeasures to establish stability within the process in question.
  • Process Innovation Systems: Measurement data of processes that creates a launching pad for the targeting of newer and improved goals to be reached by the process being improved upon. 

So, what are you supposed to do with this information? What's in it for your organization?

You can start by defining as specifically as you can, what your processes are. Do you know why you do what you do? Do you know what your processes are supposed to look like? You should examine whether the way things have always been done is actually working. This deep examination can get you closer to identifying problems your organization is facing and the best solutions for those problems.  

Other approaches to sketching out Process Frameworks include interviewing employees about what and how they do their jobs, observing (aka Go-and-See) how employees do their jobs and asking key questions about how they are able to measure success, repeat it and course correct when needed. 

What this process work will do for your organization is help you organize your priority processes and offer you ways to find efficiencies, decrease waste and save money.

At OVP Management Consulting Group Inc. we believe helping clients determine what kind of problem-solving organization they are is a great way to begin any culture change or change management process. And asking the kinds of questions that start with, "How do you know...?" is a great way to establish baselines for your process framework. 


Focus: A Key To Leadership Success

Success in business is often a zero-sum game. Either you produce, or you don't. In the case of the former, there are an infinite number of ways to "produce" in a given field. But for leaders that are both successful and accessible as people, there appear to be specific skills that must be cultivated for success to be sustainable. One of those skills is focus.

I recently came across a compelling book by psychologist and author Daniel Goleman entitled Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence which reveals how high achievers that are able to focus their attention in three specific areas - one's self, others and the wider world - are much more likely to develop Smart Practices that separate their leadership styles from less innovative ones. According to Goleman, "directing attention" or focus is a primary responsibility of leaders in organizations.

In practice, leaders that are good at focusing their attention, are able to identify problems early, assign priorities to the steps for recovery and execute plans that result in appropriate solutions. Below are some of the ways successful leaders are able to concentrate their attention: 

  • Focusing on Yourself: Being authentically self-aware and taking into account how others see you allows successful leaders to be the same person to others as  you are to yourself.
  • Focusing on Others: Being able to exercise empathy and build social relationships allows leaders to find "common ground" in virtually situations. 
  • Focusing on the Wider World: Being able to apply superior listening skills, along with being a sharp questioner puts leaders in a position to effectively construct and implement strategic thinking and promote greater innovation on the teams they lead.

Now for leaders who are new to this approach to exercising the pillars of emotion intelligence, one of the questions that always comes up is "how can these concepts apply to me and my team?" After all, telling someone to "focus" on themselves, others and the wider world is easier to say than to do. 

At OVP Consulting, we believe in straightforward approaches to practice these skills.


For greater self awareness, taking a self-assessment test is the often the best way for leaders to understand how they come across to the world. From there, having one's team members take the assessment, gives a leader better insight into the motivations of their teams. This gives leaders the opportunity to begin exercising what Goleman calls emotional and cognitive empathy skills. After that, the team and its leader are ready to work together design strategic approaches to achieving organizational goals.  

We've found that this approach gives our clients a framework upon which to chart a course that clearly defines what improved performance looks like for their organizations. 

If you are interested in learning more about how the self-assessment process works, and would like help designing measurable processes that help you achieve your goals, please fill out the Contact Us form on the website. We look forward to working with you. 


Transform Talent Into Strength

Super Bowl Lii is coming this weekend pitting two iconic American cities - Boston and Philadelphia - against each other to see which will field the best football team in the land. And as players, coaches and fans of the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles prepare for the Big Game, there will be heated debate about who will win the matchup. But, one thing that is indisputable, regardless of who scores the most points on Sunday, it's the Patriots that are the winners. 

You see, the Patriots organization has figured out how to cultivate team success on a consistent basis over nearly 2 decades, by developing a system that not only is expert in identifying talents, but that understands how best to consistently transform those talents into organizational strengths. The team's leader prime mover - the initial source of energy directed towards a goal - is the coach Bill Belichick. 

Results don't lie, as you can see in this great piece on the subject from the Harvard Business Review.

Since 2001 under Belichick, the Patriots have finished first or second in their division every year, failed the make the playoffs only twice and been to eight Super Bowls, of which they've won at least five. This consistency is a demonstration that leadership development linked to success is often formulaic. 

For our purposes, we'll define talent as naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling and behavior that can be productively applied. Strengths, on the other hand, are defined as the ability to consistently provide near perfect performance in any given activity. And to achieve the kind of consistent success that Belichick and his Patriots have enjoyed, they have applied a simple equation: Talent x Investment = Strength.

But you might be wondering, what does this have to do with my business? Perhaps you don't have the luxury of hand-picking talent to fit into a system relies on million-dollar coaches and athletes. Regardless of your organizational challenges, we believe the Talent-to-Strength equation can be successfully applied to your teams and result in improved performance across a multitude of domains. And it is this philosophy of system design that many organizations fail to connect to their activities regularly.

Here are some ways to begin thinking about how to convert your team's talents into strengths:

- Adopt a strengths assumption approach to problem solving

- Establish an awareness of individual and team strengths

- Apply a team's organizational strengths daily

- Identify and track key performance metrics 

This is what we do with our clients. We work with them to understand how best to leverage the talents of their team members. It's a way to develop a framework that helps team leaders to put teammates in the best possible positions to help the organization succeed and encourage individuals to utilize their talents more consistently.

For more information on how to help organizations uncover the talents of its employees and turn those talents into strengths, please contact OVP Management Consulting Group Inc. We look forward to helping your organization grow and win!