Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: What does it take to get an employee's full attention and best performance?

Dear Readers, for the next several weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a conversation with Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces™. Bill interviewed me about our innovative approach to creating forward-thinking workplaces. Here’s my response to Bill’s second question, “What does it take to get an employee's full attention and best performance?” Enjoy!

Hey, Jeff,

What does it take to get an employee's full attention and best performance? ~ Bill Fox, Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces

Hey, Bill,

This is a complicated question, with many inputs and qualifiers. I've struggled with this idea my whole career. But if I’m proud of anything in my career, it’s that I’ve done a decent job bringing great performance out of people. I think the way to do that is to encourage and motivate them to want to do it and to be excited about what they're doing.

I'm always reminded of the mantras of the Armed Services. The Navy says, “People, People, People” is their focus. The Army says, “Process, Process, Process.” And the Air Force says, “Mission, Mission, Mission.” These are the things that you hear military professionals talk about as being what really drives them in their particular branch.

What I've learned in my company is that people want to be excited about all three of those things, the mission being the most important one. It isn't enough just to give them a mission and a goal. You also need to focus on the people, making it easier for them to focus on the mission.

Finally, process is important too. Process is nothing more than a definition of expected behavior, and I find that the right amount of process guidance can be very liberating and a powerful force in growing your culture. So, it’s a three-legged stool – and architecture of sorts. Laying out a very clear mission that's exciting to them, laying out a clear vision for culture that helps people be successful, and laying out the process in a way that makes their job easier and more successful. All three things together have to be intertwined and work together.

Anyone interested in CMMI Training, as a way to receive the right amount of process guidance so you can change behavior and improve performance, is invited to attend our Intro to CMMI training class on September 20-23, outside of Detroit, MI. Register here!

[Please check back soon for Question #3 from Bill Fox on Exploring Forward-thinking Workplaces: What do people really lack and long for at work?]

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

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