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Values Drive Performance… Whether you Know it or Not

February 22, 2013
Every agreement, every engagement, every contract about improving
performance, whether that’s with others or yourself, starts with a set
of values that are either shared or not.  Values directly drive behavior and
outcome, whether you or I know it or not.  Given that values are so
important, especially as predictors of what’s going to happen next, I find
it helps to expose and refer to them often.
But first it really helps to be
about your own.  Would you be able to create a list right now?  Take
a look at my operational values below and see if it helps:


1. Learn to tell the truth and seek/use feedback
– More than anything else, being able to acquire and non-defensively use
feedback is key to rapidly improving performance… or remaining stuck.
Feedback is the engine of performance improvement.
Truth, data; they both
represent aspects of feedback about what’s working, what isn’t, what level of
trust is being generated, what’s a realistic plan, what mindshare you’re getting
and 101 other topics.  It’s all there to use and give to others to use… or block
and deny.  The choice is yours, and while you are choosing ask yourself,
“Does anyone enjoy working with someone who doesn’t pay attention to or
respond to feedback?”


2. Writing is the bun on the hotdog
– As complexity and degree of innovation increase, it’s important to write out
what you’re going to do, before doing it… and then write up what you did,
your progress update, your summary, observations, next steps… after you’ve
done it.  Both set up the brain to engage in critical thinking and planful activity,
versus repeating the past or bouncing around until you land on something.

3. Information gets more valuable the more it is leveraged
– One input, multiple uses, reuses. Treat information as something to be leveraged.
One source of shared information is 100 times more valuable then everyone having
their own version/source of information… that actually creates/adds to chaos and
– Thinks of information as the key to a flat organization, every time accessing
information requires someone else to look it up, or assemble or translate it for
someone else, you lose speed and agility.


4. Information gets more valuable when it is easily Connected
– Information is only valuable to the extent that it drives accurate actions and
accurate decision making.
– Lose the connection to either, and your process of handling information causes
the information to lose value.  Use tools (like ManagePro) that drive connection.

5. Follow-up Drives Follow through
– Be prepared to follow-up (regularly) on anything/everything you assign, to self
or others, and have the tools at your finger-tips to conduct that follow-up with
minimal effort (preferably in a couple of clicks).  High performance, high follow-
through for most requires high follow-up.


6. Plan long, measure short
– It’s important to have an OUTCOME focus, to define the OUTCOME and
construct a plan for HOW to get there, but…
Focus your measurement efforts on
early, even weekly targets, that’s the feedback loop you need to pay attention to
for both reality and hypothesis testing as well as course correction. It’s like playing
baseball, if you can’t make it to first base, everything else is out of reach.  Note,
most people will show you their colors, their game, how they operate in the first round.

7.  Measure What Matters… Publically

– If it’s really important, measure it.  If you want the measurement to drive
everyone’s behavior, not just your own, share the measurement.
– Measuring is like turning the lights on, measuring individuals and sharing the
results compared to peers is like turning on the high beams… performance goes
up and it’s much easier to differentiate top from bottom performers.


8. Value changes over time, retest regularly
– What’s the most valuable thing to do today, may not be the most valuable
thing to do tomorrow.  Regularly reassess and clarify the value scale for
yourself and others, it’s key to an agile work effort.


9. Performance is Ultimately Personal
– If Tip O’Neil is correct in saying, “all politics is local and when it comes to
health care, all politics is personal”, it’s even more so when it comes to performance.
The most powerful place to measure and impact performance is at the individual
level.  Set metrics for yourself and for everyone else on your team, even if it is
only do you get the top 5 things done each week that represent the most value.


10. Work & Write Brain Friendly
– Prioritize in 3’s, the brain likes 3’s.
– Write a summary update first, not last, and do it in less than 50 words.
– Say/write what you want in 8-12 words, I’m not sure most people are
listening after that, and the focus of few words does wonders for moving
the process forward.


11. You go first, they’ll go where you’ve been;
– Improving performance is always a two pronged journey.
Read this carefully:  You can’t take people to a level of performance, to
accountability for results, to a responsiveness to feedback… that you haven’t
already developed in yourself.
And then for a dose of sanity and keeping your
boundaries, remember, It’s through you, but it’s certainly not all about you.


Bottom Line:
Values drive performance, drive behavior, drive what’s gets attended to
and what doesn’t.  Values, especially what I call operational values directly
predict how you and others will work.  Make value clarification a regular
part of your work process and you’ll have more predictable results.

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