There are different ways of “watching the game” or determining the means, ability and accountability issues, which if addressed, would enhance employee contribution and growth. Below are examples of how the concept of “watching the game” has been applied in various contexts, to realise significant improvements in individual and organisational performance.
Regional sales managers accompanied their sales executives in the field not to assist them to increase sales (although sales increased dramatically), but to determine what they needed in order to achieve excellence in the sales process.
One of the key scores on a warehouse scoreboard was picking error rate per picker. The warehouse manager shadowed both the best and the worst pickers in the warehouse. In a few days he was able to find out what, in terms of means, ability and motivation accounted for the difference in performance.
In an explosives factory, 80% of misfires in the field were due to powder gaps in the fuse, which was caused by the operator during the process of spinning the fuse. A team made up of managers, technical experts and trainers spent 72 hours on site assessing operators against critical quality standards and asking them questions about their knowledge (including the “why”) of the standards. By “watching the game”, they found that 70% of the reasons for powder gaps were related to a lack of adequate means, 20% to ability (primarily a lack of “know-why”), and 10% to carelessness or willful non-adherence to standards. Remediation of the issues reduced customer complaints from 20 to 2 per month.
In a company which recovered stolen and hijacked vehicles, a key role was that of the installation technician who installed the tracking device in the vehicles. Team leaders across the country asked the installation technicians reporting to them 3 questions:
Acting on the answers to the questions led to a significant improvement in motivation and customer satisfaction.
In a retail environment, area managers radically changed how they spent their time in the field by going on store manager rather than store visits – with the aim of “fixing” the store manager as opposed to “fixing” the staff, the store, or the stores’ results or performance.
An MD accompanied his marketing and sales manager on an international trip to visit key suppliers. They returned not only with signed contracts but with clarity regarding what the marketing and sales manager needed in order to take relationships with critical individuals in the supplier organisations to higher levels.
Another form of watching the game is to do the job for a period of time and experience the realities of it. There is nothing like running a branch, taking calls in a call centre, or serving clients to understand what is really required to perform in the role.
Legitimate Leadership profiles are another mechanism for “watching the game” of those in leadership positions. They serve to diagnose a leader’s degree of alignment to the care and growth criteria. Better still is to spend time with someone in a leadership role sitting in on their one-on-one meetings and team sessions and watching them “watch the game”.
To watch the game in any context requires leaders to take their eyes off the results and to put their attention on their people. It requires them to focus on giving their people what they need to excel in their roles. Then, and only then, will organisational excellence be achieved.