Summary of Elite Meeting September 2017
Sandrine Yvenou, of Eurostar, Managing performance
Sandrine’s presentation built on her last session, which had outlined how Eurostar sets out its expectations of the team, giving clear guidance of the behaviours which demonstrate different levels of performance. If employees know what is expected of them, this can form the basis of performance management, since both positive and negative feedback can be linked to these indicators – in what way did the individual fail to meet the standard, or how did they exceed expectations?
At Eurostar, they have moved away from formal appraisals or reviews every six or twelve months, to a system of ongoing performance management. Managers are expected to be among their teams, modelling required behaviours and giving specific, immediate feedback whenever possible. The two formal reviews are reserved for setting targets and personal development plans.
The expectations are backed up a week-long induction program for all new employees, and ongoing training. Sandrine also stressed the importance of senior staff modelling required behaviours – this raised some veterinary examples e.g. Directors who regularly don’t charge properly, but expect their employees to!
Eurostar also have a reward and recognition system with three tiers, enabling colleagues, supervisors and customers to recommend any employee for a reward.
David de Cremer, University of Cambridge, Judge Business School, Lessons in Leadership
David based his presentation around what he sees as some of today’s major leadership challenges. Businesses need people who will use their judgment and take responsibility, who will ‘own’ their job, not do things on auto-pilot – just because it’s ‘the way things are done around here’.
Leadership is about exerting influence to change things; it is a transforming activity. A good leader will make changes to benefit the organisation (rather than just themselves), and encourage others to perform better, allowing the leader to step back and do less. Without leadership, you have a management-only culture, with a focus on established procedures, control and stability, but a lack of judgment, an inability to learn from mistakes and a business that is closed to new ideas.
David went on to discuss three characteristics of leaders:
Too many people get stuck on ‘what’ they sell, and ‘how’ they do things, but don’t consider the ‘why’. Starting with why will lead to clearer values and purpose, and this should be communicated with everyone; new employees should be value-trained. Having a strong, clear purpose means that once you empower people, they know what direction to take. What do you (and your organisation) stand for? Why should people be led by you? While having strong values and a shared purpose is generally a positive thing, if they become too firmly entrenched, they can stifle innovation and new ideas – a leader needs to balance this.
Since purpose is stable, and agility is about being flexible, this can feel like a contradiction. In reality, although your purpose is stable and remains the target, you can be flexible in how you try to achieve it. Steve Jobs is a good example of how purpose and agility can go hand in hand – he had a strong sense of purpose, but allowed himself to ‘roam around’ and identify different opportunities in diverse markets, but which aligned with his purpose.
Connection and Trust
Having shared values and a common purpose help to build trust. Trust is incredibly important in teams, providing the ‘social glue’ that facilitates positive interactions.
Building, maintaining and repairing trust are essential leadership skills, and a trusted team will need less monitoring and supervision. You should beware of the mindset that a team must ‘earn your trust’ and prove itself – this can waste a lot of time and undermine their trust in you. In general, the best way to gain trust is to give it – input your trust to get the relationship going.
People look for three things in deciding whether to trust someone:
- Ability – competence, expertise
- Integrity – how do you behave? Do you do what you say you will?
- Benevolence – do you care about me?
Research has shown that supervisors value an employee’s ability most highly in assessing how much to trust them. Employees tend to put integrity first when deciding whether to trust a supervisor. A lack of trust in teams leads to less sharing of ideas and a lack of innovation.