The Essential Step In Helping People Improve Performance
Truth. It's an ugly word but somebody's got to say it. Managers in particular have got to say it, understand it and utilize it in a manner that increases productivity and long-term growth. To put it simply, the authors write, "Getting to the truth must be more important than feeling comfortable and protecting egos." According to Bruce Bodaken, chairman, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California, and Robert Fritz, a 20-year consultant to Fortune 500 companies and bestselling author of several books including The Path of Least Resistance, "real" truth-telling (not watered-down versions of the truth) can add anywhere from 25 percent to 40 percent more actual capacity to organizations, without adding significant cost. Unfortunately, many managers mistakenly think they have only one of two unpleasant choices when dealing with the truth: 1) to have a contentious confrontation, or 2) to avoid the situation, neither of which promotes a lasting change.
How to Recognize and Change Performance Patterns
For every manager, there are critical moments that occur regularly, referred to as Managerial Moments of Truth (MMOT). These moments include two distinct events: 1) the awareness that there is a difference between what you expected and what was delivered, and 2) the decision about what to do with that information. Whatever the manager decides, the author writes, a managerial moment of truth has happened. "The way you deal with these moments will either trap you in a cycle of limitations making your work life harder or enable you to unleash crucial capacity, align your team, and increase the impact of your leadership."
Changing performance therefore, through the acknowledgment of truth, becomes critical to positive outcomes, rather than mere "problem-solving" as we know it. Most managers have tried to change performance of their less-accomplished people; however, "the usual pattern they experience is a temporary improvement in performance, followed by a plateau, followed by a regression to the original unacceptable situation. This is an oscillating pattern in which movement forward is reversed."
The four-step MMOT technique is an outcome-oriented method and includes an acknowledgment of the truth, an analysis of how it got to be that way, creation of an action plan and an establishment of a feedback system.
For the MMOT technique to be effective, managers must remain outcome-oriented and focused on the abilities and attributes of their staff. "The challenge is to find just the right way to bring out the best in individuals who have different personalities, different approaches to life, different rhythms and patterns," Bodaken and Fritz write. The authors further elaborate on each of the four steps included in the MMOT model, providing examples, case studies and clear-cut studies on what works and what doesn't. This further exploration of the MMOT technique includes exploring differences of opinion, assumptions, design flaws, unexpected events and rethinking the management process.
The authors, in addition to a thorough explanation of the MMOT's corrective properties, offer a positive MMOT model as well. The positive MMOT, similar to the corrective MMOT, includes the same four-step approach but does so when a manager's expectations have been exceeded, rather than missed. "Here, the learning typically focuses on what worked particularly well and how we may adopt that approach in the future," they write.
Managing the Truth
With lively examples and illustrative case studies for both positive and corrective MMOT's, four question-types emerge as essential components of penetrating reality: information, clarification, implication and discrepancy. The information question expands our visual picture, the clarification question clearly defines the terms, the implication question addresses underlying assumptions and the discrepancy question deals with contradictions. Together, along with matching individuals and roles (including skill, attitude, alignment and interest) the MMOT model builds trust within the team and cross-departmental alliances. According to the authors, "The team is the most important unit within the organization."
Why We Like This Book
This book gives an eye-opening view of the underrated notion of truth in the managerial context. With clearly defined and attainable steps for improved productivity, increased efficiency and accountability, Bodaken and Fritz outline a new standard for successful operations and greater employee performance.