Working with 5 Executive Directors from a company that employs ~2000 people, we identified a gap in the Managerial Leadership Training, Mentoring, and coaching of employees before being promoted to a Manager Level within the company.
This gap was identified, leading to the following concerns;
- High turnover rates amongst front-line employees, the managers’ direct subordinates – ~28%, which was higher than average for this company.
- Increased customer complaints about service and interactions.
- On-Time completion of work decreased by 20% in 3 years.
- Overtime increased by 30% in 3 years.
- Stress, Illness leading to an increased number of sick days and health problems for Managers and front-line staff.
- General Managers, the Manager’s direct managers, NOT achieving their work on time and in quality expectations.
The Executive Directors had a valid concern that this trend will continue as they retire and their positions are filled, leading to serious challenges for the company.
One Solution Step was to create an internal Managerial Leadership Process, starting with the Managers and eventually being used at every company level. Many problems stemmed from what sounds like a ‘simple’ step-BUT ‘Simple ain’t always easy.’
Below is ONE Quality Tool commonly used in TRIZ that we used to begin framing the context of our solution.
Dimension Time Cost Operator
Dimension Time Cost Operator (DTC) – is a tool for seeing problems differently, exploring ideas of extremes in size and cost. The DTC Operator can work to release Psychological Inertia.
Generally, the DTC Operator is used in solving more tangible, mechanistic problems. With this team, we used it to explore the challenge of Developing a Managerial Leadership Process.
The DTC Operator Algorithm
- Define the problem: Name the system or the part of the system of interest.
- Consider ideas created by DTC extremes:
Problem: Institute a Managerial Leadership Training Process for all Director Staff to provide each individual involved with the requisite Skilled Knowledge to manage staff and add value to the Organization and their subordinates.
If dimensions were huge, what would success look like, how would that happen, in what way could that system be developed?
- If the system were huge, meaning tens of thousands of people were going through this Manager Training Process at once, we would need a tracking and feedback system to show when and where each manager is in the process.
- Can we create an independent participant self-lead program, possibly using our internal intranet? Does that include online learning, meetings with direct Managers, and feedback plus direct subordinates and direct managers?
If dimensions were tiny, what would success look like, how would that happen, in what ways could that system be developed?
- If the system were tiny, meaning 1 person going through this Manager Training process, that person would have a great deal of pressure on them and because of all the focused attention would be able to make a large impact in the company.
- Can we develop or use the directors’ immediate Manager and their Manager once removed to work with this person and focus on their existing work and involvement in this process? Meaning that each person involved feels and knows that they are treated as individuals, and we are working to move them to their Leadership Potential.
If time were extremely long, what would success look like, how would that happen, in what ways could that system be developed? OR If speed were extremely slow, what would success look like, how would that happen, in what ways could that system be developed?
- If time were extremely long, the Managerial Leadership Process Directors would have more than adequate time to learn and master the concepts. Additionally, the Managers evaluating the Directors’ performance would be able to more accurately place the Directors with teams, tasks, and individuals who could benefit most.
- Can we create a long-term research project from this? Determining what works…The team already has performance evaluation data from the past. What could the data from the past about the directors tell the Managers about the directors’ effectiveness?
If time were extremely short, what would success look like, how would that happen, in what ways could that system be developed? OR If speed were extremely fast, what would success look like, how would that happen, in what ways could that system be developed?
- If the Managerial Leadership Training Process’s speed were fast, the Directors would have to find ways to stay motivated and show rapid comprehension and application of the content.
- Can we find short-term tasks ‘small wins’ that can happen in a time-frame of 1 day or shorter? These ‘small wins’ would keep motivation high and learning applications flexible because the fast nature would allow for success and quick fixes to mistakes.
If costs (not just in terms of dollars but costs in terms of downsides, harmful effects, etc.…) were extremely abundant, what would success look like? How would that happen, in what ways could that system be developed?
- If there was no limit to cost – we could increase this to develop Managerial Leadership Training & succession planning for the entire company. Plus, have people on-site continuously to develop curriculum, mentor, coach, train, and work in real-time with all of our staff.
- Can we hire a full-time person to do this? If we can really impact the things listed in our Gap Analysis earlier, that would make up for a full-time on-site Managerial Leadership Position.
If costs were extremely limited, what would success look like, how would that happen, in what ways could that system be developed?
- If cost is limited to almost zero, use the people and resources we already have.
- Over the past several years, we have sent many of our Managers, Directors, Front-Line staff to training and Executive Coaches. Have we ever gathered stories, resources, and what was most effective for them?
- Could we gather small focus groups of Managers, Directors, and front-line staff to take on their own Director Training and Improvement initiatives?
As we read through responses received with this exercise, we could Converge and Diverge upon many ideas, processes, and solutions that we would never have thought of if we did not use this Quality Innovation Tool.
What do we do with all this information once we gather it? The ideas were transferred into a spreadsheet. A feedback form was created and sent to the Executive Leadership, Managers, and Front-Line staff.
They were asked to evaluate each of the DTC Operator Idea/Solution’s impact on their work and the company’s work on a 0 – 10 scale; 0-No Impact and 10-Huge Impact.
This information was used in future planning and implementation meetings to better develop and institute the Company’s Managerial Leadership Process.