Throughout my career I've been fortunate enough to lead in, coach in and create several high-performance organizations. Listed below are the barriers that I've witnessed many leaders, team members and consequently their organization's struggle with. As you'll discover most of these barriers can be overcome by leaders with the right level of commitment, belief and direction.
Barriers Senior Leaders Put In Place
Not Educating Themselves Sufficiently.
Many senior leaders attend a seminar or read about the types of results high performance organizations can get and decide ... 'full steam ahead'... "We need this in our organization"! But they may have misunderstood or not really informed themselves of the level of commitment - time, energy, resources, shift in mindset - that will be needed by them and everyone in the organization to implement a high-performance organization design.
Make sure you engage a consultant who prepares the leadership team for what they need to do, the time, energy and resources they'll need to dedicate to changing how the organization operates in order to shift to a high-performance culture.
Make sure your senior leadership team understands the Valley of Despair ... because it will come up at some point during the transition to high-performance ... and how to navigate their way through it. Access Managing The People Side of Change to learn more about the Valley of Despair
Abdicating Real Leadership
Thinking they can 'sign the paperwork' and then abdicate implementation and behavior change to middle management. I've seen way too many organizations and their leaders try to do this and fail miserably.
Those high-performance workplaces I've worked, led and coached in all had leaders, at the most senior level, who were not only advocates, barrier busters and providers of resources they fully committed to leading from the front - role-modeling the behaviors
Keeping Too Many Rules That Stifle Meeting Customer Needs
Not be willing to remove the policies and procedures that are stifling high performance. Trust is a huge part of high-performance and senior leadership teams need to be willing to trust that the vast majority of their team want to do the right thing. And, given the opportunity will do the right thing - without having hanging around their necks deadweight policies and procedures that are stopping them from performing.
Not Giving Up Control
Following on from the point above senior leaders need to be willing to let go of control and actually do what they are meant to be doing - spending 90% of their time working on strategic issues - rather than, as I see in many lower performing organizations - working on the busy-busy's. (Most of the time they get caught up in the busy-busy's because (subconsciously) they can then blame their own lack of performance at strategic thinking on lack of time, rather than lack of capability!)
Not Having the Courage/Willingness to Let Go
Not being courageous enough to try something new - to lead in a new way. To being vulnerable to letting go their old shields that 'protected' them. To maybe saying "I'm not 100% sure of how we are going to do this, but I'm willing to learn." One of my favorite sayings in workshops is "If you aren't learning how can you expect your people to be growing!"
Not walking the talk - for example committing to being coached as a high performance leader or visiting front-line offices/facilities each month - and then only doing it once or twice and then going back to the old habits. That type of behavior breeds cynicism and stops change efforts in their track.
Not Turning The Mirror On Themselves
Feeling that the 'blame' for the organization not performing to its potential is due to the people and systems below them. In other words, not holding themselves responsible for the way they operate and the systems they rubber-stamp.
Barriers Created By Not Managing Performance
Not Having Information At Your Fingers to Track Performance
Poor technology that doesn't allow recording and reporting of organizational and individual performance, creating of development and succession plans. People need to have quick, real-time feedback that enables them to adjust their performance fast.
Imagine bowling, letting the ball go down the lane and someone puts a big curtain in front of you - so you can't see how many pins you've dropped, whether the ball went straight down the lane or trickled off to the left or right. Two things will happen fast - one you won't improve, because you don't know what you need to improve and, two, you'll probably get bored and stop playing/trying. We are an innately competitive race and want to continuously improve ... your systems should reflect that.
Not Coaching Up or Coaching Out Fast!
Leaders not having the skills to coach up or coach out fast. An under-performing team member often wields more influence in a team than any other individual. Heard the saying 'birds of a feather flock together'.
If you've got under-performance happening in your team and you let it run on, you'll quickly have a low performing team.
And, here's something you need to grasp ... if a high performance leader is coaching a team of high performance individuals, then high-performing people will be queueing up to get into that team. And isn't that what you want?
Not Having Regular One-On-Ones
If you aren't having one-on-ones with your team members at least fortnightly, you probably aren't getting the most from them. Spend at least 30 minutes discussing performance reflecting on improvement opportunities. And if you are shaking your head saying I don't have time for this ... then take a step down from calling yourself a leader - take a pay cut and just be a manager.
One of the major reasons your team isn't high performing is because you aren't spending time with each of your direct reports focused purely on helping them to be at their most productive and engaged. Discover how to get the most from your 1-on-1 meetings
Consequences Are Not Clear
Consequences for achieving/not achieving business objectives are not specified nor applied across the organization.
Not Enabling People To Feel They Are More Than Employees
Not expecting people to consistently be at their best and sharing with them the Mindset of A High-Performance Employee ... just comply. It can be challenging to overcome this mental model - but one, that when done well, transforms organizations and the individuals within them.
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