Sometimes there is only one degree difference between first and second place. Turnaround teams often look very similar to each other but go on to achieve very different results. In the case of water, there is only a one degree difference between 211 and 212, but what a difference one degree makes! At 211, all you have is hot water, but at 212, steam is generated, allowing locomotives to conquer mountains and freightliners to subdue vast oceans. I have witnessed turnaround teams that were so passionate and so close but found that 212 tipping point completely elusive.
I have observed the best performing turnaround teams don’t compromise certain core values:
Education and training: There is a huge difference between education and training. Education is the assimilation of knowledge. Training is the application of knowledge. Education is about the knowing. Training is about the doing. Either one is useless without the other. The best performing teams understand return on investment when it comes to education and training. For them, these are not optional; they understand it moves them a degree further up the scale.
Cutting-edge innovation: To keep market share, suppliers are forever finding ways to do things better, easier, safer, faster or cheaper. These innovations allow turnaround teams to be progressive. While not every innovation is worth implementing, turnaround teams must at least be aware of available advancements. Recently, I sat through an introduction to some impressive new software that is sure to challenge the state of affairs in project controls. The best performing turnaround teams won’t be the last to be informed. Ever hear the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Being comfortable with what we know, comfortable with our current technology and comfortable with how we do things can leave turnaround teams entrenched in mediocrity.
Team alignment: This is where the best turnaround teams demonstrate people are their most valuable asset. Team alignment is the evidence you have mastered the art of communication. Every individual knows the overall goal of the turnaround, how the goal will be accomplished and how this particular role feeds into the success of the event. Each person knows why every other role is crucial and how he can best assist every other role. Each individual has a clear road map, both for himself and for the overall team.
Positive incentive: For people to consistently produce their best, they have to be fulfilled by their work. In order to be fulfilled, people need at least four things in their work: 1) they have to be good at what they are doing, 2) they have to be interested in what they are doing, 3) they have to feel appreciated for their contribution, and 4) they have to be adequately compensated for their contribution. The best turnaround teams use all four of these as the basis of incentive, not just financial remuneration. Charles Swindoll got it right, “Attitude is altitude.” It is no coincidence the best turnaround teams also have the best attitudes.
Measurement: Can it be said enough? “What gets measured is what gets done.” Without accurate and comprehensive measurement, there can be no objective rating and feedback for either the individual or the team. Each individual must be clear in advance on exactly what will be measured and what the gauge for success is. Measurements should focus on what is relevant. If it does not have direct impact on success, why waste resources on measuring it, and why cloud the issue with unnecessary data? Measurements should focus on what is actionable. If you can’t do anything about a particular issue, do you want to invest much in measuring it? Measurements should communicate to your team what is important; measurements should help to set the expectations. Individuals need to know how they are performing against their own past accomplishments, how they are performing against similar departments within the company and how they are performing against competing companies.