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Which Way Is Up? Ask Compass – Volume 2

By Jordan Birnbaum, ADP Chief Behavioral Economist, Talent Activation

Volume 2 in a series of new insights from Compass

Welcome back to the second installment of Which Way Is Up? Ask Compass, in which we examine the behaviors that are measured and coached by the product.

But before we begin, let’s consider an open secret about assessments and surveys of all types. When we hear about a survey, most of us think about the information that is being collected. This makes it easy to overlook something else that is happening – that very important information is also being communicated.

When we measure whether an employee feels sufficiently recognized at our organization, we are also communicating that sufficient recognition matters in this organization. The act of measuring a thing also validates the importance of that thing.

So, when running Compass, an organization is not only supporting the exchange of valuable feedback between people. It is also setting a shared understanding of that which matters most for leadership and collaboration within the organization.

With that, let’s take a look at a few more of the Compass items, and explain why they matter.

LEADERSHIP – I have a clear understanding of what my manager expects from each of my projects.

Clear expectations are a foundational component of effective leadership and teamwork, because they enable (or disable) several other important dynamics. For starters, they are crucial for team alignment. Without clear expectations, teammates can face conflict resulting from competing assumptions about ownership and strategy.

Without clear expectations, it is very difficult to nurture accountability. After all, how can anyone be held responsible for delivering results they do not fully understand? Similarly, it is very difficult for people to operate with autonomy without clear expectations, a crucial element for sustained motivation and importance. Finally, unclear expectations are the enemy of efficient operations, resulting in many “do-overs” that may have been avoided with a bit more foresight.

Fortunately, managers can make a great deal of progress in setting clear expectations with a little time, energy and focus. Frequent check-ins with team members can ensure that projects stay on track, and/or adjust as needed. Specificity in describing tangible outcomes is another practice that can help managers make progress in this regard. In addition, providing more context for the “why” behind expectations can empower employees to adapt and innovate as they proceed.

COLLABORATION – Finds effective solutions for problems that are within his / her control.

Problem solving matters in virtually every aspect of our lives, and collaborations are no exception. When our colleagues are able to address any problems that come up without slowing down or derailing the collaboration, most of us are usually very happy. So, it stands to reason that our colleagues would appreciate the same from us.

Of course, problem solving is much easier said than done, especially in a rapidly changing environment. Fortunately, there are certain tactics we can use to overcome these challenges. The first step in solving a problem, of course, is recognizing that it exists. One exercise that can help to identify problems is to anticipate them. Before beginning work on a new collaboration, it may help to write a detailed description of how the project could become a flop.

Once problems are identified, it can help to think through how others in the collaboration may be affected, as this may actually surface possible solutions. It can also help to break a problem down into multiple, smaller problems, and try solving those. Finally, communicating with peers is always a good idea when it comes to problem solving. Not only might you get some great ideas about a solution, you will also let your collaborators know what to expect moving forward.

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