3.8 Looking to the West: A Leader’s Role


    EGL Newsletter Volume 3.8

    Continuing in our series on Understanding Organization, we started our walk around the organization wheel in the north, the place of organization wisdom. We moved to the east, the place of how the organization works. Last time we talked about the south, the place of the people in an organization. This time, we continue our journey to the west.

    According to the Medicine Wheel, the west represented evening. The animal of the west was the grizzly bear, and was associated with strength, introspection, and experience. The west represented a time to reflect upon life and ones experiences.

    For our spirit warrior leaders, this represents a place to look back and learn about the organization. This is a place of story-telling, of singing the songs and praises of our heroes and heroines. Ancient cultures saw this place as where the mythology and history lived, and was the through-line from generation to generation. A connection with the west provided a sense of continuity through time and a stabilizing influence on the people.

    For our corporate shaman, the west represents the story of the organization. Most of the time, this is where the metrics and performance systems of the organization live. In many organizations, these can be somewhat dull and lifeless, singing a song most loved by financiers. In some, however, this reflective system can also be one of the successes and triumphs of the people within the organization. The most effective of these provide a sense of social equity, in which it can be readily apparent that actions aligned with the values of the organization truly promote success for all.

    There are two elements in the south. One is The Performance Measurement System and the other is the Reward Allocation System. You can think about this part of the wheel as a mirror for the technical systems and human systems.

    Performance Measurement System – This element focuses on measurement and assessment of outcomes and behaviors (business, technical and human) in relation to the organization’s defining values, core mission, vision for the future, strategic intent and the strategies and plans for achieving its goals.

    Reward Allocation System – This element addresses the distribution of the benefits of participation among the stakeholders in the enterprise (external and internal). The processes for allocating and distributing those benefits. The relationship between rewards and performance.

    Performance Measurement:

    This element deals with the system of performance information about status and trends in the business, technical processes, and human activity needed by your people to accomplish their work well and meet the objectives of your organization. This is the work unit detail that complements and enhances the overall system metrics established in TASK VIII.

    Here are some focusing questions for these aspects.

    Objectives of measurement

    1. What is the purpose of the overall assessment system

    2. Where will the information go and who will use it?

    3. How is it to be used and for what purposes?

    4. How will it be linked to the reward system?

    Focus of measurement

    1. What business, process, and individual behavior is the performance measurement system intended to reinforce?

    2. What will be the scope of the network of measurements and assessments?

    3. What levels of organizational output will it track (overall business, business process, organization, work unit, team, individual, and so forth)?

    Content of the measures

    1. What categories of performance will be addressed?

    2. What will be the weighting among the categories?

    3. What metrics will realistically illustrate the categories?

    Assessment process

    1. How will data be collected and validated? How will it be analyzed?

    2. How will the information be formatted, fed back, and evaluated?

    3. How much of the process will be standard and tied to an assessment system for the overall organization and how much will be ad hoc to this individual work unit?

    Reward Allocation

    This element deals with the range of rewards available for participation in the organization and the best way to allocate them in order to reinforce the critical performance characteristics you have identified.

    Objectives and nature of your reward system

    1. How does your present pay and promotion system support or deter the critical business, systems, and human performance requirements identified in the answers to the questions for each of the elements of the Wheel so far?

    2. What other opportunities for reward are internally available to your work unit (Remember, “reward” is in the eye of the beholder.)

    3. What opportunities for reward are available to you to use in reinforcing desired behaviors of your work unit’s external stakeholders (again, remember “reward” is in the eye of the beholder)?

    4. What will be the linkage between your reward system and your performance measurement system?

    5. What may need to change in the formal pay, promotion, and recognition system of your parent organization to adequately support its critical business, systems, and human performance?

    6. What may need to change in the informal reward and recognition habits in the culture of your parent organization to adequately support its critical business, systems, and human performance?

    What do you need to do to open up a dialogue about this?

    Next Article: Looking into the Center

    Previous Article: Looking to the South

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