Maximising Contribution, Maximising Return
High-performing companies require highly effective teams that are focused on ethical company growth. Such teams depend upon each member being able to maximise his or her contribution, as well as the group as a whole being able to function as an engaged team that maximises its collective contribution. Maximised contribution leads to maximised return – for employees and for the company.
Understanding ‘natural energy’
In order to maximise return each employee should be in their flow – or function through what is referred to as ‘natural energy’. Your natural energy reflects the way that you naturally think and operate. It is most easily observed in critical moments, when you will always respond in a particular way. A critical or defining moment is usually a brief and intense pressure or turning point, in which the decision you make or the action you take, dramatically impacts your journey, either positively or negatively. By default, you will respond in that moment from your natural energy as your instinct kicks in. However, your ability to respond effectively and in alignment with your natural flow can be developed through ongoing learning and development.
Some people are naturally innovative and intuitively drive concepts, projects and activity forward, despite all odds. Other people wait for the right time to make a decision or take action based on their sense of the market, team or clients. Some people will always be focused on who is affected by a decision and who they can connect with, whereas others will naturally think of the process or the system first and how that should operate. The concept of natural energy acknowledges that different people will naturally be more effective at different aspects of a business’ activities.
The Contribution Compass is an online profiling tool that very accurately positions a person as one of eight types or natural energy profiles.
Maximising your contribution
Identifying, creating and sustaining your value, which you then leverage, is the cornerstone of working effectively with your natural energy. It requires that you have a deep understanding of your natural energy and that you actively seek to utilise that natural energy to create, build and deliver value – for yourself, for your team and the company as a whole.
CONTRIBUTION COMPASS PROFILES
Included below is a brief summary of the eight Contribution Compass profiles.
Catalyst – Accelerating change
Catalysts are dynamic, stimulating, driven and inciting. They excel at getting something going with energy, and are often found starting new businesses, leading a new project or taking an existing project into its next big step. They easily plug into the world of ideas and into a vision of the future.
Champion – Blazing a trail
Champions shake up the status quo and stir up people to pay attention to the message they herald. Using their personal credibility, Champions shine light on the cause they rally for and incite others to join them. They excel at taking a proven idea and broadcasting its value to a wide audience, garnering support and enthusiasm.
Coach – Igniting greatness
Coaches ignite the fire and passion of others to work together as a team focused on bringing a central idea to life. Coaches bring warmth, energy and inspiration, which lights up the path for others. They excel at understanding people deeply and being tuned to their emotions and what their team really need in order to overcome challenges.
Connector – Building bridges
Connectors bring people, ideas and resources together. They can unite the right people at the right time and place, which is driven from an understanding of what people really need and the resources and opportunities available that may best serve those needs. They excel in being able to talk through ideas, challenges and solutions to create a collective way forward.
Custodian – Honouring the promise
Custodians nurture and support the ideas of others and bring them to life, while guarding and protecting the assets and resources under their care. Their gentle and supportive energy is grounded in their understanding of reality, resources, timing and practical considerations. They excel in their ability to honour commitments and deadlines, while ensuring that the right activity delivers tangible results.
Cultivator – Nurturing growth
Cultivators guide and shape the growth of a team, project or enterprise through a subtle influence that seeks to adjust, refine and develop. They make incremental adjustments in their environment to achieve long-term, sustainable growth. They excel in their ability to manage complex projects and deliverables, while making sure that resources and risk are carefully managed.
Conductor – Optimising the performance
Conductors use their focused and efficient energy to direct the singular instruments of the orchestra into a unified and optimised collective. They excel at making sure a process or function runs optimally and efficiently. With a natural affinity for analysis and data, a Conductor is able to find meaningful insights through information and the analysis thereof.
Calibrator – Fine-tuning the instruments
Calibrators ensure that the instruments used to create value are continuously refined and adjusted where necessary. They are relentless in their pursuit of continuous improvement and incremental refinement. Calibrators excel when they can tinker with how the system works and experiment with new approaches to old problems.
Building Effective Teams
We face an employee engagement challenge of epidemic proportions. Research by BlessingWhite indicates that in Europe only three out of ten employees are actually engaged in what they do, a result closely mirrored globally and in Africa.
Gallup, a leading engagement researcher, has been able to quantify the cost of poor engagement and the results are quiet staggering. They estimate that disengaged employees cost the US economy between $450 and $550 billion per annum. Furthermore, a comparison between the top quartile companies in engagement and the bottom quartile indicates the direct financial implications for high-engagement performers: 22% higher profitability; 21% higher productivity; 41% less quality defects; 49% less safety incidents; and 37% less absenteeism. If you took your own company performance figures and plugged in these factors, the financial benefit of higher engagement would sell itself.
Even small improvements in engagement can lead to very significant financial benefits. Research by Aon Hewitt suggests that just a 5% improvement in employee engagement can directly increase revenue by at least 3% in the following year. This tells us that the path to increasing engagement simply requires us to take a step-by-step approach in the right direction.
Gallup recommends that one of the best ways to increase engagement is to transform how companies develop their people. The ‘old school’ approach was to focus employees on developing their weaknesses; the ‘new school’ approach is all about talent and strengths. Managers who build strengths in their team can just about eliminate active disengagement and double engagement levels.
Here are some of the ways that you can start to turn this disengagement tide by harnessing the natural energy and talent of your team, and how to specifically apply the principles of the Contribution Compass to do so.
Start a team in flow
As the truism says: how you start something makes a big impact on how you finish. So too is this the case for the start of a new team, be that through the formation of a new business and its subsequent growth or through the setup of a project or division within an existing company. The Contribution Compass builds upon this idea by recommending the ‘Skip One Skip Two’ approach for new teams. Depending on the profile of the new business or project lead, the second and third team members should be consciously selected to build upon and accelerate the natural energy of the founder. The goal is to bring balance and flow as each team member is added.
So let’s take an example: you are a Catalyst profile and are setting up a new business idea that you have come up with using your innovative natural talent for product development. Perhaps you hope to franchise or license the concept once it has matured. Your next team member needs to build upon your natural energy and take it further without dampening your flow. In the Contribution Compass, a Coach would be the next team member, skipping one profile in-between, and thereafter you would need a Cultivator, skipping the next two profiles after Coach. The Coach brings the ability to attract sales and supportive relationships while building the team that delivers the result. The Cultivator grounds the project or team and brings long-term planning and risk awareness. This team of three therefore touches on as many positions of the Contribution Compass as possible to bring balance and momentum. How many new teams actually develop in such a conscious way?
Align profile to position
The other critical application area for natural energy and employee engagement is through the recruitment process itself. Many profiling tools shy away from being used as mechanisms for making recruitment decisions. We take the view that there is a definite link between the talent required for a role and a candidate’s natural talent. Using a talent or natural energy profiling tool therefore helps to align profile to position. It is not to say that one profile cannot deliver a positive outcome in a role that is out of their flow. What it does mean is that in a time of crisis or stress that person will revert to their natural energy without thinking. It is often in those moments of great tension that the greatest opportunities can be seized and the most disastrous mistakes are made. If you have matured your flow, and your flow and your role are aligned, the chances of opening up doors of opportunity at the right moment and in the right way increase exponentially.
In applying this approach, you have to be absolutely clear on how the role being recruited for adds value to your organisation or to a specific team. In a sales team, for example, you cannot assume that every sales person you recruit must be a Champion. Sometimes, a sales team needs the support of a Conductor to bring process and data analysis to manage the sales activity. Likewise, an engineer does not always have to be a Calibrator. Perhaps what you really need is a Coach with engineering experience who leads and fires up the engineering team.
The Contribution Compass therefore adds massive value in the recruitment planning stages where you would assess what the position and team as a whole requires, and selecting the ideal profiles from there. It also supports you to focus your language in press and advertisements so that your position framing naturally attracts the profile you need. In the interview and selection stages, the profile requirements and profile results can support you to validate short list selections, thereby improving effectiveness and efficiency.
Balance the team
A successful team requires diversity in its skills and abilities so that the team as a whole can achieve more than the sum of its parts can. A balance in natural energy is equally as critical in this requirement for diversity and ensures that every opportunity and challenge is seen from different perspectives. In so doing, team members can strengthen the whole through their own natural energy and through the insights that naturally arise from their point of view. Emotionally intelligent leaders understand how to balance their team and they engage consciously to maximise the contributions from each profile within the team, even from those who are directly opposite to their own natural energy.
When there is a balance of natural energy around a board room table, in an executive or management group, or across the operational or frontline team, there is a much more effective flow, and in turn results, for the directors, team members and the business as a whole. A company that is focused on maximising its growth opportunities should commit to consciously understanding and bringing into balance the natural energies of its board, team and key functions.
As a simple exercise, you can create a quick view of the balance within your team by averaging the four natural energy percentages across your team members. This will clearly indicate whether there is an even 25% split across of the four or whether one specific energy dominates. You can also plot your team member’s profiles onto the Compass and quickly see the dispersion and clustering taking place. One of our clients completed this exercise and were surprised to see just how polarised the executive team were towards ‘Activating’ natural energy, which energises new projects yet does not finish them.
Grow the team consciously
In this application area we consider how best to support your team to grow given that you may not yet have all your ‘aces in their places’. What is critical to understand is that employee engagement and retention is driven largely by the extent to which your team has the opportunity to do what they do best every day and love doing it. By working with your team consciously it is indeed possible to find powerful ways to shift people into other roles that are aligned with their natural energy and unlock their full potential. It all begins with the conscious awareness of flow and alignment.
However, there will be cases where it is painfully obvious that the challenges of a specific employee are indeed a mismatched flow issue and there is nowhere for them to go. The key to resolving this dilemma lies in your performance management system. If you were brutally honest about the effectiveness of your performance management and accountability practices, you would likely uncover the solution: being clear on expected outcomes and metrics while holding that employee accountable for performance. Over time, it simply becomes too challenging to create real value through a role that is not in your flow.
The other consideration is that even if a person’s profile is aligned theoretically with their role, they might not necessarily have matured their understanding and application of their talents. Using the Contribution Compass does not mean that we ignore emotional intelligence, self-awareness, company values alignment or good human resources practices. What it does mean is that we take them to a new level.
Employee engagement is a powerful tool that directly and positively impacts company performance outcomes. The only question that remains is: what is your next step in building a culture and business-as-usual approach that maximises both employee and customer engagement? What would you have to do to increase engagement by just 5%? What do you need to do to get your team into their ‘zone of flow’ and maximise individual and collective contribution?
Developing Internal Competency
The Contribution Compass uses a network-centric approach to activate its value: a network of partners, associates and specialists who leverage the Contribution Compass throughout their networks and focus areas. As such, the Contribution Compass team focuses on building partners and developing facilitators who can deliver accredited training, coaching and consulting, and partners who can grow the use of this tool within their networks.
It is advised that, in time, every company that adopts the Contribution Compass platform nominates facilitators to attend the Contribution Compass Facilitator Programme, an online-based and practical learning process. This enables the company to cost-effectively deliver company-wide training and development using the Contribution Compass.
This programme has the following outcomes:
- Clarify understanding of the purpose and application of the Contribution Compass, including maximising contribution and maximising return
- Ensure a working knowledge of the profiling tool and the eight Contribution Compass profiles to a sufficient level that the knowledge gained can be practically shared with others
- Develop an understanding of the process and methodologies employed in the Contribution Compass standard training programmes, including planning, delivery and outcomes assessment
- Demonstrate practical expertise in applying those training methodologies to create consistent value for clients
- Identify areas of personal facilitation strengths and opportunities to develop further