X Factor

Getting X Factor performance from your people

If you have the right people to get the best performance from them you need to create the right environment. The right people want to work in the best environments with the best people and tools. They want to be empowered and supported to achieve great results.

Create the WOW factor in the environment to get the X Factor performance from your people. Environments reflect an organisations culture.

Most corporate and government offices are made up of fluorescent lights, bare beige or grey walls, dated technology, and the dreaded cube farm. Humans like to be happy and have fun. Not treated like barn hens.

We know that hierarchy, bureaucracy and mediocrity kills innovation, creativity and productivity. They are not efficient, effective or agile. It is difficult for them to attract, inspire and retain the best talent. They usually are unable to create a happy, innovative and productive environment for their people.

“I am convinced that if the rate of change inside an organisation is less than the rate of change outside the end is in sight.” – Jack Welch was chairman and CEO of General Electric

Some Key Environmental Success Factors
So let’s look at one of the best innovative, fun and productive environments to see what we can learn.

Fortune Magazine Names Google the 2014 “Best Company to Work For”. This marks their fifth time at the top of the list.

What makes working at Google truly unique is the workplace environment that encourages innovation, productivity and a healthy disregard for the impossible. Google’s success can also be attributed to its environment. Google has people whose sole job is to keep employees happy and maintain productivity.

Culture is crucial to success. With any organisation it all starts with people. And if you want to run a great organisation you need great people. One way to get them there and keep them is by making their work fun. As Mark Twain said: “Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”

Creating an office for work and play
When you want people to think creatively and push the boundaries of what’s possible, their workspace shouldn’t be a drab maze of beige or grey cubicles. Like most of Google’s decisions, data shows that these spaces have a positive impact on productivity, collaboration and inspiration. Simply put, Google aim to make their offices a place that people want to be.

Google’s philosophy: “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.” This should be the philosophy of all organisations.

It also worked for The Walt Disney Company
Beginning as a cartoon studio in the 1920s. Walt Disney set out to make Disneyland “The Happiest Place On Earth” and now The Walt Disney Company is the world’s largest media and entertainment company in the world.

There is something in people being ‘happy’ and ‘passionate’ that achieves peak performance.

The Attractor
Getting the best people to come to you is a very effective human resource strategy. Each year, Google gets over 2.5 million applicants. That’s equal to 6,849 per day and about 5 per minute – and Google reviews each one. Because it’s the people that make Google what they are today.

It is critical to: Attract, inspire and keep the right people.

If organisations want to attract top tiered talent that isn’t consumed by making money, they’ll need to focus on making a great working environment. This includes the work atmosphere, to the work done, to employee freedom.

It all starts at reviewing the management jobs (the buck stops there)
When Google wanted to know how to develop better leaders, the company went to employees and asked what they needed.

In Google’s ‘Project Oxygen’, the statisticians gathered more than 10,000 observations about managers — across more than 100 variables, from various performance reviews, feedback surveys and other reports. Then they spent time coding the comments in order to look for patterns.

“The starting point was that our best managers have teams that perform better, are retained better, are happier — they do everything better.”

People typically leave a company for one of three reasons, or a combination of them:
1. they don’t feel a connection to the mission of the organisation, or sense that their work matters.
2. they don’t really like or respect their co-workers.
3. they have a terrible boss (and this was the biggest variable).

Google saw huge swings in the ratings that employees gave to their bosses. Google found managers had a much greater impact on employees’ performance and how they felt about their job than any other factor.

What employees valued most were stable and consistent bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.

Google has identified 8 Manager Tips
1. Be a good coach
2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
3. Express interest in team member’s success and personal well being
4. Don’t be a sissy: – be productive and results-oriented
5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
6. Help your employees with career development
7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
8. Have key relevant skills so you can help advise them

A warm greeting for new employees
A warm greeting for a new employee turns out to have a big impact. A manager greeting a new employee with ‘Hi nice to meet you, you’re on my team, we’re gonna be working together’ and doing “a few other things” leads to a 15% increase in productivity over the following nine months. Words have a lasting impact.

Individual Contribution
Everyone should have a chance to contribute, people should not be discouraged and there should be time to allow ideas to develop. Google developers get to spend 20 percent of their working hours (a day at work) on side projects. It was an attempt to give employees the time and space to think innovatively.

Team Work
Working together in teams helps to develop ideas and use ways to encourage the introverts in the group to speak up because they have ideas to! If the conversation gets stuck in a loop then try to move the discussion on so that there is fluency and if you do this then you should be able to encourage those genius ideas to come out.

Innovation Teams
A more systematic way of promoting creativity in the workplace is to set up innovation teams. Each innovation team will be tasked to come up with ideas on how to improve the work process of a particular aspect. Deadlines are to be set to ensure that the teams present their ideas and be rewarded if they are excellent. When done properly, this will signal to everyone that the organisation values work-related creativity and employees.

Employees may be unwilling to take risks because they do not know whether the organisation supports creative innovation. This is when you need to guide the organisation in the right direction, and show that creativity is highly valued. This has a lot to do with how receptive you are to their ideas, and how you make known your intention to be a more innovative organisation.

Risk Taking
One reason why employees are not thinking out-of-the-box or coming up with solution that are vastly different from how things used to be done is that they may be afraid of the repercussions of making mistakes. Risk-taking has to be encouraged and be seen as a norm in the organisation. Developing a creative culture takes time, but it starts off with management being more open-minded and less judgemental to the suggestions by employees.

Most Valued Asset the People
The more you value your assets the more careful you are in selection and looking after them. Managers who employee the wrong people usually also mismanage them and then blame the employee for their mistakes.

Support and Reward Creativity

  • Create Innovation Teams with clear briefings and realistic timelines
  • Diversity among Employees and Teams is critical
  • Create a positive working Environment

Employees need to be empowered before they can start coming up with great ideas. You’ll find that even the most unimaginative worker becomes creative when he has a stake in the outcome of a project.

Give a good briefing to the right people

  • Get agreement and buy in from the individual or team members for achievable outcomes
  • Support the project, the individual or the team
  • Provide appropriate resources (human and financial) and
  • Give authority to the team to complete the project successfully

“If you give people tools, and they use their natural abilities and their curiosity, they will develop things in ways that will surprise you very much beyond what you might have expected.” ― Bill Gates

“The vision is really about empowering workers giving them all the information about what’s going on so they can do a lot more than they’ve done in the past.” ― Bill Gates

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” ― Bill Gates

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – General George S. Patton (4 Star General)

George Smith Patton, Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a general in the United States Army, best known for his command of the Seventh United States Army, and later the Third United States Army, in the European Theatre of World War II. His strong emphasis on rapid and aggressive offensive action proved effective. Patton’s great oratory skill is seen as integral to his ability to inspire troops under his command. He was regarded highly by his opponents in the German High Command. German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (the Desert Fox) credited Patton with executing “the most astonishing achievement in mobile warfare.”

The physical environment and tools must also reflect the innovation and productivity here are some Top 20 Most Awesome Company Offices for inspiration:


“Great leaders create innovative and productive environments.” – Wayne Larkin

The number 2 priority in any organisation is to create the right environment for the right people.

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