Topic 4 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series
transcript written by Wayne Brown
Here we are at topic 4 already – the title is “SMART rules and reward goals”…
In this 3 pack episode (meaning this blog, plus the original video and the podcast), we talk about an old favorite of many – the SMART goal setting tool. Still, we incorporate a more modern flavor, leveraging off the gaming world and what has made this phenomenon so popular with the millennials and iGen groups.
And remember that we are using this approach in the context of delegation – i.e., how to get buy-in and positive, sustainable action towards the achievement of those delegated tasks or projects.
There is much debate today about whether the SMART approach to setting goals still works with our younger generations.
So during this episode, we’ll explore that concept a little deeper and identify how we can utilize the SMART structure while modernizing the method to still be useful in today’s business.
Let’s start with a review of our target…
The aim here is to delegate our Priority 3 and 2 tasks to a motivated, capable and engaged team in a way where the effort is sustainable – every leader’s dream, right?
If you have been with us since the beginning of this series, you should be starting to realize that there isn’t one single, fast cure-all in this equation.
Rather it’s a combination of carefully coupled actions (i.e., basic leadership skills) that enables the leader to excel. And a large portion of that success revolves around your team’s performance.
So in topic 2, “Motivating your future team,” we spent time exploring7 key triggers for motivating each individual.
In topic 3, Creative Delegation Techniques, we took one step further and spoke about assessing each task’s complexity and the teams’ skills before deciding which tasks were best suited for which team member.
We wish to take this journey one step further by establishing the requirements for each and every delegated activity.
Typically this is where we introduce our SMART acronym, and we still do, but understand that it’s just the starting point.
So let’s move onto this traditional tool and take a closer look at the pros and cons.
SMART is made up of 5 words…
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound – although in peak performance, we talk about the need to stretch and challenge the individual. Therefore, we prefer to use the wordAmbitious instead of attainable. In itself, SMART forms a great guide to work through with employees as you assign their tasks..
Note, however, that we need clear determinability(meaning we must identify if the “objective is achieved or not achieved”). This is really of central importance.
There must be a criterion that allows everyone involved to clearly and unmistakably make that determination.
Remember, throughout this process, the secret lies in communicating your expectations concisely and allowing the team member to speak and express their thoughts. ” Based on the employee’s personal behavior motivators and skills, you would also include discussing the level of support and review that should take place throughout the activity.
At this moment the leader should…
Take the time to make clear that some additional rules apply as well as those just mentioned above;
If the achievement of the objective is endangered, the employee must provide early timely feedback to the leader.
The agreed objectives are documented.
The leader helps the employee to help themselves.
If you remember our earlier discussions, you will recall that we said all 4 of today’s working generationsappreciate communications, clarity, and feedback, so no real issue so far. If this part is done correctly, it should be a positive and exciting experience for everyone involved.
However, the outcome is still somewhat predictable.
Now we want you to cast your mind back to Topic 3…
Yes, we introduced delegation, but in particular, something a little extra – the weekly meeting to discuss your project and progress.
This was an important step as recent studies have confirmed that the psychological effect of “making progress” is critical to sustained motivation. It encourages even higher levels of effort and opens the window to innovation.
When coupled with the team or peer collaboration, you have the chance of unlocking epic and creative performance improvement. A simple yet effective trigger is to ensure we are showcasing the various projects and discussing each person’s progress while obtaining support and feedback from the team.
So why do we bring this up now? Simply because you have the opportunity right here and now at this stage of setting the goals, setting the rules, and setting the periods for feedback, to tap into this powerful realization – your ability to design the work to be inherently motivating
You have the foundations laid. They are solid, based on everything we have covered to date. Now it’s time to look at your progress and development of SMART rules and reward goals.
Ask yourself if you have created that environment that enables and sustains great work. Have we bridged the gap between the old ways and the future needs? The gap which academics refer to as Constructive Discontent.
Have we enabled the employee to do their work and therefore make the all-important progress? Have we designed the work to be inherently motivating?
To explore this, we will examine closely the way that game designers are thinking. How have they attracted an estimated 2.35 billion online video gamers worldwide collaborating by choice with each other?
It’s worth noting here that more than half of those are based in the Asia Pacific. In business, we know that today the rules of engagement and buy-in of our employees have changed. Therefore, we will explore what makes this gaming revolution so attractive to the millennial and iGen workforce.
How can we learn from and tap into this phenomenon to make our workplace activities equally enticing across all 4 generations?
Essentially game designers work on three elements – goal-driven, challenge intense, immediate feedback, all to provide a rich experience.
Sounds somehow familiar, right – so are we really that far from a solution. The great realization is that we are very well positioned for this next quantum leap if we have already acted on the previous steps from topics 1, 2 & 3.
The gamer’s rewards are inherent from their success, based on their own skill and performance – the potential carrot and stick are there. Still, it’s much more intrinsic in the background, driven by a personal desire to do well and receive instant gratification and feedback based on ability and performance.
By contrast, many employees have no idea how their performance is seen until the annual performance review.
Did the light bulb just come on – do you now see the connection between the weekly progress and team collaboration meetings?
So let’s summarize what we have introduced in this topic 4 episode…
You must already action the learnings from Topics 1, 2 & 3. These form the basis for building a strong and successful team and turning your leadership from good to great.
We now add to that repertoire by establishing the task framework, expectations, and ground rules – using the traditional tool called SMART – ensuring that the targets are a stretch and challenge. This is an opportunity for you to sit with each of your team and discuss the project in detail, identifying support and resource requirements.
AND then, the extra element – we introduce as part of this planning an agreement to participate in weekly meetings to “establish that clear sense of progress.” This is done in collaboration with the team as each project is reviewed – for anyone familiar with the project management technique called Agile, you will see similarities here with sprints and regular update meetings
And you probably expect it by now; there are secrets to how we need to offer this feedback. For gamers, it’s very black and white. Succeed and win, fail you lose!
Do we or should we take a similar harsh approach with our employees and their projects when they aren’t going so well – typically not! In fact, that goes against what we have already introduced. Instead, we offer feedback that doesn’t become stuck on the problem and reasons why not by turning our attention to what needs to be done to get the project back on track and completed.
More on this in our next topic, “Feedback strategies,” where we look forward to having you join us again for this vital and final step in establishing a high-performance team through genuine leadership.
These are basics skills but are coupled with the latest best practice learnings and studies in neuroscience. If you can put them in place, then you will truly separate yourself from the pack.
Remember to subscribe if you haven’t already and ;
Watch this video on our YouTube channel Mentors Rant
Topic 10 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series – Running with your game plan
transcript written by Wayne Brown
We’ve reached the end…
Welcome to this very special, final edition of our “Leadership Basics series”. It’s been a labor of love during these past months where we achieved (more or less) our goal of releasing a new episode every 2 weeks.
As an outcome, this program has now been running for the past 5-6 months with this the eleventh video, podcast and blog.
A mere drop
in the ocean when compared with my own career spans more than 40 years, with
more than half of it in a managerial or leadership capacity with
multi-national, fortune 500 companies.
In parallel, I’ve started a number of businesses, the first, an electrical contracting business, registered way back in 1983 and then in 1999 I founded my first limited liability company.
throughout this entire period I’m pleased to say that I’ve never stopped learning,
developing my skills and honing my knowledge into tactics.
And a new beginning… (my own Game Plan)
Those that are following this channel or our podcast and blog, will possibly now that in the last 12 month I’ve intensified my studies, with the aim of modernizing my knowledge and skills sets in preparation for our latest venture, the registering of a new company and venture in July this year called “Skills 4 Executives”.
Our purpose is to directly address the needs for elite talent development with-in the elevator-escalator tribe but by ensuring we target specific requirements of the industry not purely generic leadership.
We plan to do this through the aid of our vast global network and an array of acclaimed experts.
Let’s have a quick look at our Skills 4 Executives (S4E) company structure;
Communications via “A Mentors Couch”…
Staring with the communications arm called “amentorscouch.com” which we launched approx. 9 months ago around the end of Dec 2018.
With-in this arm, we will continue to host our Coaches Blog, the podcast show called couchTALK and this video channel called Mentors Rant. And additionally, in the coming months we’ll be commencing a bi-monthly webinar show together with quarterly newsletters.
And the big news, we’re targeting by middle of 2020 to release our first eBook. More on that in the period ahead.
Aside from this communications arm, Skills 4 Executives has three core areas of focus.
Coaching via “Coaching 4 Companies” …
At the heart of everything is Coaching. In the future you will find that we launch various services through “coaching4companies.com”, where we work with corporate executives and executive teams primarily from with-in our elevator-escalator global tribe.
This is available via face to face or with virtually interactions and offer those being coached exposure to industry and non-industry legends as well as being supported by a huge range of quality techniques, tools and templates.
One executive group to receive special attention are those nominated by their company as “Elite Talents”. These talents are our tribe’s future leaders and require grooming to thrive in this dynamic, converging world.
As such, we are building a unique, industry specific, two Level “Elite Talents Program”. At the programs core is a fully automated, multi layered, computer-based Leadership simulation.
test participants ability to steer their way through real life day on day
scenarios with the challenge of not only running the business but being
successful in growing it in a sustainable and profitable manner.
Facilitation via “Facilitation 4 Companies” …
Supporting this will be a 2-year part time, 12 module blended program which shall be offered through 3 day bi-monthly face to face workshops via “facilitation4companies.com”.
Whilst these workshops offer participants the most comprehensive and fully experiential journey through hands on practice, discussions and networking opportunities, we realize that not everyone has the luxury of attending such a demanding program.
Online Self-study via “Education 4 Companies” …
Therefore, we are also preparing a modified version of the program via our online self-education platform called “education4companies.com”.
As mentioned already, scaling globally face to face will be possible through a large and diversified network of experts – all with corporate leadership backgrounds and many coming with a strong emphasis in education and development.
sure you can sense that I’m hugely excited about the venture as it’s one which
brings with it the potential to re-shape our industry’s approach to Leadership
And now it’s your turn …
So, there you have my GAME PLAN in a nutshell – Skills 4 Executives Limited. It continues to be a work-in-progress and pleasingly is evolving at pace.
My first goal is simple – “to move one step closer every single day to realizing the release of this industry specific Elite Talents development program”. And the great thing is that once this is goal is achieved, we will be able to fully focus on preparations for our first industry Mastermind in late 2020.
It’s now time to bring together all of the elements to help finalize your arsenal of basic skills, which we’ve covered in the past 10 episodes. And in the process, to create clarity for you so that it’s simple to understand and to apply.
If you can recall all the way back in the very first of those episodes, we outlined our reasoning for putting this series together.
to ensure that our tribal executives had the basics locked in place as a
standard part of their daily practice so that they are able to free their minds
and focus on the bigger picture; those changes coming around the corner in the
not too distant future.
Our belief is that with-in the next 3-5 years, as a result of the unprecedented technology convergence, our industry along with most other industries will be turned on it’s head.
This will then require flexibility, agility and new skills. But that doesn’t mean total disbandment of our core principles and work ethics, nor do we stop engaging with and satisfying stakeholders, or building strong teams that can address even more complex challenges.
means that these must be locked in as a solid part of your leadership package.
And therefore, that you are ready and able to accommodate whatever the new
world throws at you.
For the remainder of this episode we will give you a blueprint, to simplify those key learnings which need to be adopted and implemented. So here we go….
Our stakeholders …
If you visit our site www.amentorscouch.com and the blog called “Running with your game plan” you will find near the top the Game Plan Blueprint, we’ve compiled for you.
Our suggestion is that you
download and print it so that you can follow through and take notes as we help build
your game plan together.
Do you recall our 9 stakeholder groups? And how we dissected these between internal and external, as well as those we placed in our inner and outer circleof influence and finally deciding whether they were deemed a supporter or detractor?
Step 1: You will find this as the first activity in the downloaded document. Having this stakeholder information sorted enables you to look at how you want to engage in the future with each major stakeholder – be they an “Influencer” or otherwise.
Please note here that even
if you did this exercise some 5-6 months back, we would suggest now is a great
time to review and update the results where necessary. It s a dynamic group and
requires regular review and reflection.
Broadly speaking we would
start with the Inner/Outer Circle as step 1. List all the stakeholders you can
identify and then plot them into their respective quadrant – noting your
relationship with them and their interest in your operations.
From here you can ask yourself the question – “Are all Influencers sitting in your inner circle and do you have any real detractors?”
One critical stakeholder – “OUR TEAM” …
Step 2. Based on your assessment, utilise our template and
plan out your engagement strategy for all those you consider critical to your
One of the
largest stakeholder groups will be your team and we discussed in video 2 how
essential this group are for you and your company’s success.
we start now to look at what concrete actions are possible to build and develop
To help you communicate effectively, to show empathy and humilitywhilst establishing a connection of trust, which becomes empowering.
You’ll see the in the Topic 2 checklist that we outline the broad headings which represent those 7 sub-topics which we detailed during that episode, starting with;
the 5 leadership traits which you require and must consistently demonstrate.
the workplace environment, talking here about the physical surroundings, rather than anything relational
the healthy mind platters 7 areas of focus – working with and enabling your team to embody these in their life & work style.
Acknowledging that our workforce, which today spans 4 different generations – from baby boomers, through to Gen Z require interaction and communication with correctly
Then understanding the large range of motivational theories which might helpful for you in identifying and to maintain team engagement and empowerment.
working with rational & emotional strategies and identifying how to motivate by addressing inner needs through extrinsic and intrinsic means
And then finally to the SCARF model, looking at the 5 domains of social experience and ensuring we trigger the positive, reward response, not the negative, threat reaction.
Next, Delegation and Feedback…
We now move to the beginning of a major subject which will spans multiple episodes – Delegation and Feedback. Starting with the basics behind the delegation process and establishing of the “WHY, WHAT and HOW”.
In our checklist you will find these questions under Topic 3 – Creative Delegation Techniques. Each is list as a broad headings and under that, the key items which you as the leader need to know and practice.
You may recall we kicked off with the 3 reasons behind the“WHY” question – and we said that;
we delegate to ensure we meet stakeholder expectations,
to help with team development and growth,
as well as to simply allow us enough time to lead.
introduced a couple of tools and a series of questions under the “WHAT” portion, which gave us a way of determining the tasks to delegate based
on identified priorities and to which members of your team were most suitable
in handling the challenge.
Then finally under the “HOW” we bought to the table a series of newer concepts. Ideas centered around what we have learnt from theoretical and practical research, which indicate people want some freedom to work on activities of their own choosing.
Additionally, they also want the see that they are making progress, hence we introduced to Activities of Choice and the weekly team meetings where individuals were able to showcase their project, discuss issues and report progress.
Then, to establish the rules and objectives…
Still under the heading of “How” and related to delegation, we introduced Topic 4 – SMART rules and reward goals.
Here traditional goal setting meets online gaming, where we took our old favorite the SMART goal setting tool and looked at how we could make the process more engaging during the task delegation.
First, we used the tool to set the expectations on both sides, ensuring clarity, together with a few do’s and don’ts to observe.
applied these requirements in our weekly progress reporting. But until that
point there wasn’t really that much new, and we weren’t so confident that with
these few steps would engage with all 4 generations.
wanted to shake it up a little and see whether we could learn something from
the online gaming world.
We discovered that game designers essentially work on three core elements when building their products
games must be goal driven,
challenge intense and
offer immediate feedback
All whilst providing a rich experience through-out their time online.
Gamers are motivated to achieve their goals by being rewarded or penalized along the way, based on their own skill and performance – the potential carrot and stick is there in the background, but it’s much more intrinsic, driven by a personal desire to do well and to receive instant gratification and feedback.
Hence, we reviewed our SMART process to ensure we captured the traditional 5 elements for clarity, but modernized our approach with our weekly meetings, ensuring transparent progress reviews, team collaboration and immediate gratification or feedback.
It was a
win-win formula which bodes well with all in our workforce.
learnings didn’t stop there however, and although any leader that has applied
the lessons from topics 1 – 4 will be far ahead of the pack, we wanted to
ensure that these wins became the norm and were locked into our workplace
You will notice how we enable you to work through & capture this practice via the checklist.
Therefore, during Topics 5 & 6, we turned our focus to different Feedback Strategies, commencing with an understanding of what happens in people’s heads when they are given feedback – be it from colleagues, their boss or even friends and family.
The amygdala hijacking triggers that threat or reward response as studied in Topic 2.
effort to help us manage the whole feedback topic more effectively, we provided
a 4-step strategy as a guide for Leaders. This strategy commenced with;
the need to educate everyone involved on the value in seeking feedback and learning how to effectively receive feedback. And we explored multiple ways that we might do so.
Then we moved into the considerations and actions required during the preparation and planning of your feedback sessions
both of these steps in place, it was time to dive into two types of feedback,
which we again supported with some simple tools to make your life a little
Our first feedback approach was the informal version. The type of thing you might expect walking down the corridor or when you see your boss whilst getting a coffee.
always, that offering
guidance on improvement is critical; without it, the person will be uncertain
as to how to avoid the same or similar issues in the future.
To assist we intro’d a tool called FAST which stands for Frequent, Actionable, Specific and Timely.
And finally, to the more formal feedback – the F2F sessions, where we ensure we have privacy and a number of other pre-requisites in place from the outset.
During this portion of the episode we reviewed briefly (3) three different feedback tools and suggested the two most common today are which are called BOOST and SBI.
One area which has become quite controversial and somewhat dated was the annual performance review.
we decided to bring the entire process into the 21 century with the use of
technology and a continuation of our earlier journey with regular weekly or
bi-weekly reviews and feedback.
Adopting Achievement Reviews as a replacement to those dreaded Performance improvement discussions.
looked at what current technology offered and how leading companies where
starting to utilize these tools.
we also wanted to ensure that there was some research supporting the switch and
that this was not purely a gut feeling we had but that it was right direction.
we found ample evidence that supported our direction.
Starting with our motivational theories and David McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory and his Iceberg Model, then further through Intrinsic Motivators and with the SCARF theory.
All supported us on our quest.
And further, when we were able to couple these theories with many research papers from leading University professors and noticed that fortune 500 companies were beginning to shift in a similar direction, our confidence and belief that we were heading in the right direction skyrocketed.
To ensure we left no one behind in our transition however, we decided to offer an interim step in shifting from performance to achievement reviews – this was the humble 360 degree report which offers a buffer between the sole opinion of the immediate boss, by including feedback from colleagues, customers, suppliers, your team as well as your boss.
nice deflection indeed and made even more attractive today due to the price
decrease possible as a result of technology advances.
the end of the day, this is a great extension along our journey – if you had applied the
earlier strategies we spoke of, then the results of each employee’s successful projects will be known already to the other team members.
Therefore, these results can be made visible to the entire team, thus creating a form of competition, but also offering the opportunity for continued immediate gratitude and feedback from all.
Now onto Topic 7, where it’s time to shift gear slightly, and start by assuming that “Utopia” in business seldom exists and that from time to time we are bound to find ourselves challenged with problems, be they related to people or to systems and processes.
We as managers and leaders need to be effective in working towards and identifying solutions. Enter this topic and the bundle of new skills it introduces for us.
We commenced by analysing our conflict management awareness and determining which of the 5 default styles we adopt when confronted with conflict.
will see in the checklist the 5 styles and a link to the questionnaire which
will help you make your own and or a team members assessment.
We also explored the typical reaction we can expect from our team when they are questioned about an issue or situation. Both are very useful for your preparations as well as deepening your leadership self-awareness.
then, we move broader and deeper and ask “but what if the problem is larger and
involving more than one person – what then”?
This is where we introduced you to various problem-solving techniques and tools.
Again, you will see these under Topic 7 of your Game Plan checklist.
And finally, we said that whilst few leaders today are well equipped with these skills and knowledge, we want you to have even more options in your tool kit and therefore introduced the concepts of incorporating Creative and Critical Thinking into the Problem-solving mix.
outcome is a truly dynamic process which will help you nail 99% of the issues
you encounter in your career.
Then the icing on the cake – looking at how to take some of those creative juices and apply with the problem solving equation by including group dynamics, diversity and visualization to map out the end to end process and identify gaps which enable you to strengthen the overall process design – a magic, modern day twist to the solution formula.
reaching Topic 8, we know that the skills shared so far will have placed you in
great shape as a Leader among leaders, and someone that your team will follow,
whilst other stakeholders are happy to collaborate with.
final 2 topics are to further consolidate those abilities and prepare you for
the advanced series which will follow soon after the conclusion of this basic
So, in this topic 8 we begin speaking about Change and why as a Leader you need to first understand yourself, that change is an essential component of everything in our lives – since birth through to now and beyond until you pass to the other side. And this reality is no different with-in your career and for your company.
As Steven Covey was famous for stating “The only Constant is Change”.
So in our Game Plan checklist, we help to visualize this reality and offer guidance on the typical psychological impact we all have as a consequence of any change.
this provides you the opportunity to see when a member of your team is stuck
and needs support as they transition along the curve from denial and anger to
acceptance and adoption.
this knowledge is not sufficient, we also wanted to provide you the tools,
which you can utilise and make your own, when your career requires that you do
so – if you
haven’t already been involved in a change initiative, then it’s probably only a matter of
time before this is thrust upon you. – remember “the only constant in life…”.
with this knowledge and tools you have your starter kit in place and ready to
test the waters.
One foundational skill set which you must possess for success with Change is the ability to communicate. We offered you an insight on how to structure your communications here, but unless you are already a natural story-teller, then this is one area where you are going to require further information and coaching.
Finding the balance between values and performance…
In Topic 2 we began by providing 5 leadership traits which you must process – Trust, Listen, Accept, Share and Enable. Whilst these are 5 essentials, they are not the only hallmarks of a strong leader.
We mentioned your ability to communication just a moment ago, so I won’t list it again here, but in addition, a leader that functions with and consistently demonstrates humility, empathy, self-awarenessand operates from a values base of ethics, integrity and compassion, will thrive with all generations of the workforce today.
And so, it
was a logical inclusion as the final basic skill that we speak about the
Values-based leader. This is someone that understands the benefits of having a
diverse team and seeks opportunities for inclusion of that diversity in
But it’s also a leader that understands that a pure,
may not foster the company culture it desires. That a pure, values-based leader
may lack the drive to perform and grow.
In this regard the Leader needs to seek the perfect blend between values and performance as one with-out the other is seldom sustainable.
that right balance tends to result in a company whose culture is based on
fairness and compassion but also shares the desire to be successful and drives
together towards profitable outcomes.
review topic in our checklist therefore incorporates those key considerations
and sets the target for finding that harmonious blend.
And so, to this last Topic 10 – Running with your Game Plan…
we have summarized this Basics series with you, where we hope that you have
made additional notes and highlighted lessons which you and your team might
still benefit further from.
It’s now your turn to outline your blueprint for taking your team and your own performance from “Good to Great” and beyond – to borrow from Jim Collins and his best selling book.
the core changes which you will make next week, to drive improvements, be it
with any of the 9 stakeholder groups, but most importantly with the team and
Our journey led us from Stakeholder engagement to Team Motivation and Delegation, Feedback, through Problem Solving and Change Management to leading with Values.
It’s a truly powerful set of core basic skills, which can only help to serve and better your career as a Leader.
As we have mentioned through-out this Basics series our plan is to now dive deeper into more advanced discussions – many of which are dear to my heart and which our brand-new company Skills 4 Executives, will be focused on providing for this industry.
I hope that
you have enjoyed this series and if so, please subscribe below if you haven’t already. We really look forward to you
joining us as we launch into the “Leaders Advance” series.
perform strongly and grow daily. Bye for now.