83 Chapters
Medium 9781523094974

Panning for Gold

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Charles and Blake were meeting weekly to discuss their talent crisis. Blake knew from experience: focused leadership energy creates impact. Besides, this was his organization’s most pressing issue. Where else would he want to invest his time?

“Good morning,” Blake said. “Any updates or insights?”

“I’ve been thinking about how to move this work along as quickly as possible, and because we’re both huge fans of benchmarking, I think we should visit a few companies known for having outstanding people. Maybe we can learn from their experience. If we can discover some tactics that have helped them attract Top Talent, it could accelerate our efforts.”

“I can support that. You find them, and we’ll visit them.” Blake said.

After some research, Charles’s team found several organizations who had solid reputations for outstanding people. Each company they contacted agreed to allow a visit.

Blake and Charles were set to make their first visit with Clare Fremont, the chief people officer of a midsized company with a predominately hourly workforce.

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Medium 9781626563940

What’s Next?

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In the weeks leading up to the planning retreat, a new energy swept the company. The leaders were talking with their team members about what was important and how they might keep score. The ideas generated were diverse—some more creative than others. But all the metrics were effective in letting everyone know the score. They included time to fill a customer’s order, accuracy, returns, waste, and overall customer satisfaction. On the Marketing team, Suzy led the group to think beyond sales to the source of sales; they set goals around sales from new customers as well as existing customers. They also decided the size of the order was a good metric to consider. All in all, Blake was pleased. Real, substantive conversations about the business were happening all across the organization.

Blake was also glad he had another meeting with Jack before the retreat. They met in their usual place, and, yes, Jack was playing chess when he arrived.

After the game, Jack said, “Did you make any moves since we last met?”

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Medium 9781626563940

Place Your Bet

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

On the ride home, Blake began to think about all he’d learned in the first few months on the job. He realized leading a large and complex enterprise requires a different level of leadership. “Chess not checkers” made perfect sense conceptually. His challenge now was to figure out what it looked like in the real world. His conversation with Jack was extremely helpful. He believed his team could turn Jack’s ideas into plans and tactics that would work. He was about to encounter his first real test.

On Monday morning, the team assembled at 8:00. This was beginning to feel normal, even to Elizabeth, who was not a morning person. She had already lobbied several members about moving the meeting to 8:00 p.m. The group politely declined.

As the team gathered, Blake could hear a couple of conversations around the table. It sounded to him like they were talking about chess!

“Good morning! I trust you’ve had a good weekend. I hear a couple of you talking about chess; we’ll get to that in a moment. First, I have asked Brad to help us develop a process we can follow to create next year’s plans. Brad, please give us a quick overview.”

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Medium 9781609949600

When the Student Is Ready

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The next morning Clint was up early, so Blake was up early also. While he drank his coffee, he thought about how much Debbie Brewster had helped him after his dad died. He still found it amazing that his dad had mentored Debbie years earlier when she was a struggling leader and then she had then become his mentor.

He credited Debbie with helping him get his job at Dynastar by coaching him through the entire process. She had taught him so much about growing as a leader. He wasn’t sure where he’d gotten off track. He was also not sure why he ever stopped meeting with her in the first place. He hoped that she could help him again.

On his way to the office, he gave her a call. Fortunately, but not surprisingly, she was eager to meet with him.

“You name the time and place,” Debbie said.

“How about our old spot at the coffee shop?” Blake said.

“Fantastic. When?”

“Tomorrow morning, early?” said Blake. He didn’t think he should schedule a meeting in the evening; he knew Megan needed his help at home.

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Medium 9781609940935

Launching a Movement

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

At the next team meeting, everyone was eager to hear about Debbie’s meeting with Jeff.

“I had the meeting with Jeff that we discussed,” Debbie began. “He was very encouraging. He likes where we netted out on the key elements. Talent + Skills + Community made a lot of sense to him. However, he challenged us to remember and to communicate: building a team is not the goal.”

Bob interrupted, “Really?”

The entire group looked confused. To Debbie, this confirmed Jeff’s concern.

“High-performance teams are not the goal,” Debbie said. “The goal is sustained performance over time. High-performance teams are a strategy to get and sustain amazing results. Results are the real goal. It’s a subtle but significant distinction. We have to ensure that the message is clear.”

Bob added, “It makes sense to me. Results are at the heart of what makes a team high performing in the first place. High-performance teams are always focused on results—if they’re not, you can be sure they’re not a high-performance team.”

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