Oct 18, 2008

ELC: Organizational Agility - The 4 Stage Process

By far - the best session I attended was delivered by a truly talented speaker - Michael Hyter of the Novations Group. The title of Michaels presentation was on Organizational Agility - much of this information is based on a study by Paul Thompson and G.Walton.

Below are my key takeaways from the session..

Why is it that, when people of comparable talents and experience are hired by organizations - some rise quickly and continuously perform at a high level, while others peak at low to mid level mgt?

The Difference?

High performers are given the challenging, often complex jobs. 3 key characteristics of great jobs are high visibility, a high level of complexity and meaningful, measurable business impact.

Michael's position is that the key factors which prevent blacks from being consistently amongst the high performers - is our focus on mastering "technical" skills and not building relational or influential skills.

I'll try to chop this up - as best I can.

Building Technical Skills: Acquiring the knowledge and skills required to be effective on the job. (Basic or even fairly complex processes, administrative work and technical expertise).

Relational Skills: The ability to build a strong support network of relationships - based on trust and mutual respect.

Influential Skills: The ability to impact and influence individuals and situations. This skill is especially important when dealing with individuals or teams over which one has no direct authority

Many of us seem to forget that our ambitions and our relationships go hand in hand, perhaps even more so than our skills, talents or smarts. It's your organizations perception of your performance that matters, and not your own interpretation of how well you're doing.

According to Michael Hyter - there are 4 Stages of Contribution - Into which our career performance falls;

Stage 1: Dependent Contributors
When your career starts - it's very supervisory dependent. In Stage 1, we are fully dependent on others.

Stage 2: Independent Contribution
Contributing Independently with minimal supervision. By this point - we have strong technical skills and possibly some good relational skills as well. We're contributing to our organizations with very little supervision

Stage 3: Contributing Through Other People
People who are able to contribute through others - have strong internal & external networks. Such people are mentors , coaches and ideal leaders in their corporations. They share, teach and mentor others.

Interestingly: According to the study, over 80% of these people are not managers. Instead, they act as resources on projects, often they are thought leaders informal leaders in their organizations.

The key to being a great "Stage 3" person - is to be a continuous learner - someone who can (and is willing) impact knowledge, insights and learning’s to others. It's a mindset - not a title.

The transition from a Stage 2 to Stage 3 is the toughest/hardest one that anyone can make. It requires a significant psychological shift in how one thinks about work.

Managers should be in Stage 3, but most are in Stage 2. Many managers simply do not have the skills to play at the Stage 3 level.

STAGE 4 - The Pinnacle
Individuals in Stage 4 - contribute strategically to their organizations Strategic Direction. This requires very strong relational and influential skills. "Stage 4" folks make their organizations better - they value contribution through others - as a key mindset.

So, ultimately - this is all about Professional Development.

We need to think about how to develop the skills required to make significant contributions and show meaningful value, in our organizations.

If you focus primarily on building and improving technical skills, you may plateau at Stage 2. The vast majority of great leaders - live in Stage 4.

In my next post, I'll outline the key reasons why most of us don't make it to Stage 4 or even Stage 3......

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