A CASE STUDY…
It was a very well known business. In newspapers, TV and other forums, the business, the owner, and the team were perceived as very successful. They had been in business 25+ years, but the owner was tired and he felt there was something wrong with the company. The business looked like it was running well and the leadership team seemed excited. What was wrong?
We met with the key employees. Yes, there was some work to be done and we could help. Nothing seemed to jump out at us that explained the sense that “something wasn’t right”.
We decided to have the 11 key employees do a Kolbe A Index; a measure of their natural instincts and how they best “do”. The Kolbe A Index measures conation, which is how they would naturally behave. The results were surprising. The owner and three key employees scored “In Transition”. This meant that they were unclear on “how to best do what they do”.
They also completed the Kolbe B Index, a measure of what instincts ( “do”), that their position required. Five of those identified a major difference between their actual natural conation and what their jobs required.
Identifying the primary issues
There are three parts of our mind: affective, cognitive and conative. Another way to say this is that we have feelings, thoughts, and actions that make up who we are. The feelings (attitudes, values, etc.) open us up to be able to use our minds (logic, thinking, training, experience, etc.) and that leads to us to act (natural instincts, how we do, conation).
The three parts of our mind need to be in alignment or there will be unnatural stress. The stress can reduce productivity and eventually lead to burnout. Relationships can be damaged. The Kolbe A allowed us to identify four employees who were not sure how to best “do”. One of the employees was distracted during the test. The other two key employees and the owner retook the Kolbe A but we changed how they took the test. This time there was a clear score that helped define how they “do”. The owner went from “In Transition” (5-4-6-5) to “Innovator” (3-3-10-3). That is a major change. By defining his work style, now he could begin moving towards his natural “how to do”.
The Kolbe B identified that many people were “behaving unnaturally”. This “unnatural behavior” was causing strain. Keep in mind; we do not use this to mean that they were not getting results. For example, if you are slouching in your seat while driving, you are still able to get to where you need to go. However, by slouching in the seat all the time, your back muscles get pulled. This creates back strain that is very painful and it can take quite a while to recover.
The same is true with your work style identified by your Kolbe A score. If you are “doing” what is not natural for you, this can cause damage to yourself as well as the team and the business.
The initial response of the owner was that the business needed him to play many different roles. He also needed his team members to wear a lot of different hats. We have seen that both of these situations are necessary in many private and public businesses.
The owner was confusing the role he played, the results needed and the tools to do it with how you actually “do” the role. In a recent Applied Vision Works, Inc. blog, I shared a situation about a compliance officer that had a Kolbe A “Innovation” rating (3-3-10-3) similar to our client in this situation. He, however, will perform the role very differently than a Strategic Planner (8-7-3-3) that pushes both Fact Finding and Systematizing. But if both are compliance officers, they will have the same title, goals, and tools to work with. They will “do” the job differently.
This situation needed to have clarification of how each person “did” best and then how they could best work together to continue getting great results with less conflict, strain and tension.
By understanding each person’s natural instincts, we invested time to help them specify what their actions would look like in their day to day jobs. As they practiced their new approaches, they began to refine them.
As a team, we put up some “half walls” around the owner in order to protect both he and the team from distractions that he naturally caused as a “Quickstart”. For Example, on Thursdays, he presented his best five ideas of the week in an email to the team so they would have a chance to think them through before discussing them together on Monday at the staff meeting. (Previously, the owner shared ideas the instant they occurred to him, which resulted in disrupted normal operations.) It worked better for the team to have these ideas captured in written form and shared via email prior to the meeting.
We then organized the team around the owner. We focused on those who were feeling strain, which were identified from differences in the Kolbe A and their job description; we especially focused on how they could get help from other team members to help the team in ways that fit their Kolbe A. One observation we made was that those with Kolbe A and Kolbe B differences were actually trying to mirror the owner. They were trying to do it his way, rather than learning from him and then figuring out their own best way. When they accomplished in their own best way, they actually got better results and found more enjoyment in their work.
Some Practical Advice
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