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The Belief Doctor (Steaphen Pirie)   Infoworks (Steven Lesser)

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"All in all, a wonderful piece of work, which I earnestly hope will reach a vast multitude of readers because, in all sincerity, they sure as hell need it."

Frank Juszczyk, PhD
Professor Emeritus of English, Western New Mexico University

Business Success Factors

[Copyright, Steven Lesser, Infoworks 2008 ]

Success Factors for Getting the Work Done In Today's Corporate Environment

Background

Our research over the past five years has focused on the question: “What competencies are required for corporate personnel to be successful in today’s corporate environment?”

We have asked this question of over 1500 persons – from line supervisors to CEO’s in diverse industries including financial, manufacturing, retail, and consulting. Data collection strategies included one-on-one interviews, focus groups and mailed surveys.

As we analysed this information with our customers, often for the purposes of strategic planning or curriculum development, it became useful to classify a number of these success factors into two broad and somewhat overlapping strategies for getting things done, as illustrated in figure 1:

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Figure 1. Success Factors

 

Figure 1: Key success factors may be classified into two groups of overlapping skills

Leading and coordinating the efforts of others in a project or team environment includes skills useful in planning and implementing short-term as well as long-term projects, whether in the context of small work teams or large group efforts.

Working with and through people without having direct control over work processes or the final outcome includes the one-on-one consultative skills used to collaborate on goals, strategies and outcomes.

Our research has shown that the increased importance of these two skill sets are directly related to the emergence of a flatter, more efficient, results-oriented corporate environment. The following survey describes these skill sets in detail.

Instructions

Importance to Success Proficiency of Employees

4 = Critical
3 = Very important
2 = Somewhat important
1 = Not important

4 = Consistently demonstrate high performance
3 = Skills usually meet or exceed job requirements
2 = Skills often do not meet job requirements
1 = Rarely demonstrate proficiency

  1. Decide whether you are going to assess a single work group, a department or your entire organisation.
  2. Complete the survey twice. The first time rating the importance of each of the skills to the success of your organization; the second time rating the proficiency of your people in each skill area. Use the following coding scheme:
  3. Analyse the results as described on the last page of this assessment.

 

Success Factors relating to work
Success factors related to working with and through people Importance Proficiency

Identify and communicate the “value-added” one can contribute to an internal or external customer.

_________ _________

Establish and maintain trusting, open, and honest relationships with customers.

_________ _________

Understand and respond to the personal and professional “hot buttons” of customers.

_________ _________

Help customers articulate their perspective of the current situation and their vision and goals for the future.

_________ _________

Uncover the underlying feelings and beliefs that support and explain a
customer’s perspective of the present or future.

_________ _________

Clearly communicate one’s own perspective of the current situation and a
vision for the future

_________ _________

Assess the degree to which customers are open to outside help and
support

_________ _________

Discuss differences of opinions with customers in a way that demonstrates acceptance and respect for different points of view

_________ _________

Identify "common ground" where differences of opinion exist between the
employee and the customer.

_________ _________

Specify concrete goals of a planned change or improvement, in collaboration with the customer.

_________ _________

Gain commitment to a change or improvement from those who must
implement and/or support the change

_________ _________

Evaluate whether those who must implement a change or improvement
have the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources to ensure success

_________ _________

Identify and eliminate potential barriers to a desired change or improvement before trying to implement it

_________ _________

Assess the readiness of customers to make a change by evaluating
motivation, clarity of vision and the capability to implement the change

_________ _________

Anticipate problems that may be encountered in a planned change or
improvement

_________ _________

Provide positive and negative feedback to customers about collaborative
efforts

_________ _________

Collect and analyze information on an ongoing basis to support customer
decisions

_________ _________

Help customers to make decisions on the basis of factual information and objective analysis

_________ _________

Solicit feedback from others on how one’s own efforts might be improved

_________ _________

 

Success factors related to leading & coordinating the efforts of others Importance Proficiency

Clearly define project or work effort goals and objectives

_________ _________

Define and articulate the purpose of a project or work effort and a project's
scope and boundaries

_________ _________

Identify key constituents of a project including project sponsor, primary and secondary customers, and project team members

_________ _________

Develop a consensus early in the project among project constituents about key project specifications

_________ _________

Create specifications that focus and document the expectations of those
involved in or impacted by a project or work effort

_________ _________

Determine the capabilities of a project team and determine appropriate
roles based on these capabilities

_________ _________

Develop and articulate a detailed project or work effort plan, including
activities, tasks, sub tasks, timelines, budget, and other non-financial
resource requirements

_________ _________

Negotiate deliverables and time frames, as needed

_________ _________

Identify and limit risks to project or work effort success using problem-solving strategies.

_________ _________

Differentiate among high and low priority project or work effort concerns
and issues

_________ _________

Conduct effective meetings, including preparation and follow-up, in both
formal and informal settings

_________ _________

Identify potential problems and resolution strategies

_________ _________

Provide effective feedback to project team members and clients

_________ _________

Monitor progress of the project plan and make mid-course adjustments

_________ _________

Ensure a smooth transfer of responsibility for support and maintenance of
project outcomes to ongoing corporate operations

_________ _________

Complete the project effectively, including arranging for training of new
personnel, job aids, technical support, archiving of records, etc

_________ _________

Analyze and plan communication strategies throughout the project based
on specific information needs of the various project constituents

_________ _________

Maintain and facilitate communications about the nature and purpose of
the project among all project customers

_________ _________

Determine political / organizational climate and develop coping strategies

_________ _________

Analysing the results

Use the following steps for analysing the results of your assessment:

  1. Review your responses, comparing your ratings of importance and proficiency, and place a check (tick) next to those success factors that may require remedial action. Consider the following as you make your judgments:
    • Any success factor rated ‘4’ in importance that isn’t also rated ‘4’ in proficiency probably deserves relatively immediate attention.
    • Any success factor rated ‘3’ in importance that isn’t rated a ‘3’ or ‘4’ in profiency probably deserves relatively immediate attention.
    • Success factors rated ‘2’ in importance and rated ‘2’ or ‘1’ in proficiency should be considered for possible attention, but should probably be considered less of a priority.
  2. Review the items that you have checked and consider appropriate remedial actions. Ask yourself the following questions as you do so:
    • Are there important clusters of items that seem to point to a similar opportunity for improvement?
    • Do certain groups of individuals face a greater opportunity for improvement than others?
    • Is it more cost-effective to take remedial action through one-on-one coaching activities, or would it be more effective to use a formal training program?
    • Are the identified opportunities for improvement generally recognized by the managers of those in need of improvement, or do these managers themselves also need additional support with these success factors?
  3. Prioritise the potential actions based on the political and logistical realities of your environment, focusing on those individuals and groups likely to provide the greatest leverage in meeting key goals...
  4. Contact us for assistance with training & implementation for Process Improvement, Client Focus, Managing Successful Projects, Change Management and more.
     

Action Items

Managing Successful Projects

Managing Successful Projects — Real World Skills for Project Managers & Teams is a two-day, instructor-led program suitable for both novice and experienced project managers. The program is structured around a four-phase process that provides a step-by-step framework for learning about and doing project management back on the job.

The course focuses on key practices and issues relating to each of the four project management phases as well as on “human dynamics” which are critical success factors in project management, such as communication, gaining consensus, problem-solving, meeting and coordinating, dealing with change and team-building.

The program is designed to benefit both experienced and novice project managers. It is especially relevant for technical practitioners who wish to creatively apply their expertise to real world projects. It is also a powerful process for day-to-day business leadership & management skills.

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