Tips to transform your team with a high-performance culture, part 1

How do you create a high-performance culture? How do you get staff morale through the roof through commitment and not compliance?

How do you manage change initiatives effectively?

The subject of effective change management is one of the differentiators of a great leader and an average one.

The good news is that you too could become a great leader. Can you create clarity of the vision for each of your key stakeholders, especially your direct reports and supervisors? Can you energize, create commitment and passion to each of your colleagues so that they go the extra mile to deliver your vision? Is your message compelling to cause your colleagues to support your initiatives at any cost?

I lived with my grandfather while growing up.

He was a very brilliant man. To change one’s behavior and career outlook, he would first give you an understanding of the need for change.

I remember one day he got on his bicycle and we moved very deep in the nearby village to see farmers in their gardens. He would point at people in their farms working. These were small-scale farmers pruning or planting or just preparing the fields for the upcoming season. For some families, the children were just staying-at-home children while for other families, the parents were alone on the farms as the children went to school. He would debrief me – why are those old people on the farm alone? I would say because they have no children, to which he would answer, “wrong. They have allowed their children to attend school.” Where the parents had school-going children with them on the farm, he would guide “those parents do not know the value of education. They will die digging in their farms since they are not making a good investment mix.”

Grandpa believed in creating the need for change. He took me to the villagers to see their lifestyle. How they eat and slept. And he would take you to the nearby Hoima town to see how up-scale people in the town, lived. The nice homes. The cars they owned and the big buildings in which they went to work. These experiences stuck in my mind. I got to understand the importance of education. His favorite words to me were “If you do not give a gift of education to yourself, your children or relatives or friends, the chances of getting out of the poverty circle are next to impossible.”

Grandpa changed my life.

This kind of practical teaching stuck in my mind. He made such demonstrations to show the case for behaviour change. Early in my life, I got to understand that if you are going to get far, you must study hard to succeed. This is one of the things leaders get wrong.  They do not create the urgency for change. If you do not tell people that this is what you stand to gain when you change, they will not change. The business will continue as usual.

The first step is creating the need for change.

Before the leader thinks about high-performance habits, first create the uncomfortableness in the team to appreciate that to transform one must move from something average to awesomeness. This implies there is clarity of the current state and the desired position. The change initiative is created to give you clarity on the path to achieving the desired situation. A good culture transformation agenda provides ‘light’ to the desired future. Imagine people in total darkness, and you give them a torch that lights the way. That is what a well-thought-out culture transformation agenda is all about. It gives you the torch to light your transformation journey. That way everyone can see where the organization is heading.

Many leaders talk about cultural transformation, but few first define the current culture! And they don’t define the desired culture either. In this case, you are like blindfolding people telling them to drive on a high express highway. The chances of a head-on collision or getting off the road and falling into the swamps are very high.

People who are not led well always get lost. Implementing change is a sensitive subject that calls for clarity of the journey.

In summary:

For change to take place, create the urgency for it. Once people become uncomfortable with the status quo and gain vigor and desire for the new future, the leader and the people succeed.

Great leaders start by creating the clarity of the desired future or vision, the purpose, and the how. The clearer the instructions, the more change initiatives become very easy.

To be continued in part 2.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, Mr. Strategy 2021. All rights reserved.

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