Retention Strategy? No! Do this instead.

(Prefer to watch rather than read? Click here, 5 mins, with captions.)

“We need a retention strategy”.  A common cry.

The thing is…you don’t.  What you need is to set things up so talented people want to stay.  And the good news is…they are the same things that make your organisation productive.

Which is good.

There are just two things:

  1. People can use their abilities to be useful
  2. People don’t mind who they are working with.

That’s it!

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Know Where to Focus – how to spot the Pacesetter in your process

Prefer to watch rather than readClick here – 5 mins with captions.

You don’t want to waste your money and your people’s time by not working on the highest leverage point of the system.  Here’s how to make sure you get this right.

In a previous post I went through the importance of Not Bothering the Barista.  I know I’m a broken record on this, but once again:

If a process must go through A, B and C to get to the customer and the number in each box represents how many they can do per period, then the system can’t go any faster than B.  And rather than using the term ‘constraint’ or ‘bottleneck’, I use ‘Pacesetter’ because it’s, well, nicer.

And conveniently B is the first letter of ‘Barista’, which will always be the Pacesetter in a café.  Therefore, Don’t Bother the Barista!

All of this comes from Eli Goldratt in his book The Goal, where he even lays out five steps for improvement, the first of which is of course (in my words)

Identify the Pacesetter.

Here’s some ways to do that.

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Time & Attention – your most unmanaged resource

Prefer to watch on video than read?  Click here – 4 mins with captions.

What makes it hard to get stuff done at work?  Interruptions.

And even if you’re not constantly looking at email (or some other interruption device you’ve installed like Slack), there’s an awareness of a constantly building-up bunch of stuff coming towards you…so the urge to check is strong.

A Better Way

Some companies are deliberately doing something about this, and one that stands out to me is the software company Basecamp which is run by Jason Friend and David Heinemeier Hansson, who look like this:

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Command and Control – not automatically evil

Prefer to watch on video than read?  Click here – 4 mins with captions.

The Paintball Experience

I went paintballing once.  Thought it would be fun – I’d played a lot of sport, am pretty coordinated, I like reading about war…

And it sucked.

The whistle goes, I attempted to move…POP…..POP….POP and I’m out.

Regroup, go again, POP…..POP….POP and I’m out.

You know what I needed?

Some sort of sergeant.  Some sort of person who could yell at me

“Thompson, over there…NOW”.

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The WIP Secret – 4x increase in throughput with one simple change

Why read when you can watch on videoClick here – 5 mins, with captions.

You can increase the throughput of your show hugely with one simple change.

For real life.

But don’t take my word for it, let’s turn to one of the total gurus – Eli Goldratt

As part of the brilliant Goldratt Satellite Program, which you can still buy and watch the legend himself (I’m not associated with it BTW), he tells the story about the maintenance area of the Israeli Air Force.

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The Weekly One-on-One – the simple thing that makes you a better leader

Prefer to watch on video than read?  Click here to do so, it’s 4 mins with captions.

There’s a thing that you can do to become a better leader that it is so simple, it’s difficult for many to believe it can make so much difference.

That thing is the weekly one-on-one. 

The best descriptions of the importance of this and some guidelines come from Manager Tools, founded by Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne 15 years ago.  Originally a podcast, it’s now a consultancy, training company and there’s a book.    They call the one-on-one the ‘O3’, and they have it as one of their cornerstones of good leadership.

They’re not wrong.

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What We Really Need – It’s Not Leadership

Prefer to watch rather than read?  Click here to watch me go through this on video – 5 mins, and with captions if you need no sound.

The stupid ‘manager and leader’ thing came up again on LinkedIn this week.  This time it was in the form of this:

…as always – leaders are cool, managers are the worst.

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Overload – It’s Time To Save Your Sanity

You can also watch this article as a videoclick here.  5 mins, with captions.

There’s a disease afflicting everyone in organisational life and it’s hurting people.  It’s overload.  It needs to be stopped.  Unfortunately…that’s now up to you!

The Fundamental Change

Where did this come from?  My hypothesis is…the mid-90s (note: ‘hypothesis’, which means a proposition to be investigated.  I’m sure there’s research).  It was about then that email got going, and from that moment on, assigning work got extremely easy.  Just email!

Here’s what I’d suggest the graph would look like if we could do stress and number of emails together:

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Parent or Partner? The deep reason behind getting KPIs to work

Prefer to watch on videoClick here – 5 minutes, with captions.

‘We need to get KPIs sorted’ is a common refrain, which carries with it the assumption that it is the lack of these things that is constraining performance.

Unfortunately or fortunately…there’s deeper stuff going on that we need to be aware of if we want this sort of thing to work.  And if we’re not aware of it, sorting the KPIs will actually make things worse!

You’d know from your own experience that when the next initiative is introduced, including KPIs, the sensible response is to smile politely until it blows over, then get back to work.  This is a deep issue of ownership, and to understand it, we need to go deeper into working relationships.  And for this, we’ll use the work of Peter Block.

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Compression! Fix a major source of pain in your organisation

Want to watch this on video rather than read?  Just click here.  5 mins, with captions.

Today’s article goes through one of the most common causes of organisational pain.  A sore back is guaranteed to make people grumpy, and compression is a great way to give your organisation some proper spinal issues.

Now, a big proviso.  Organisational hierarchies are very out of fashion right now.  Here’s three things though:

  1. You’re in one, changing them is hard, and you might as well make the obvious changes to make the thing work properly
  2. There are many, many situations where a well-run managerial hierarchy is very much the most appropriate organisational design
  3. Hierarchies get a bad rap because of the exact sort of issue I am going to go through in this article.  Fix these, and….hierarchies might just work fine!

OK, let’s get on with it.

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