CONTRIBUTION BY NIELS VAN HOVE – FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR TRUEBRIDGES CONSULTING
An S&OP implementation requires many changes, not the least behavioural change. However, practitioners indicate that behaviours are not addressed enough in S&OP implementations. There are different behavioural change requirements during S&OP maturity stages. In three posts, three coaching phases will be explained to support leaders with behavioural change in their S&OP journey. These are; Coach to change, coach to sustain and coach for excellence; coach for excellence.
Once a strong foundation of trust and communication is developed and many senior S&OP stakeholders have improved communication and display trust behaviours, the next phase is to coach for excellence. Coaching for excellence requires to go under the surface of the iceberg to help individuals develop more effective mindset, self-thoughts and behaviours. The objective is to reduce individual and group obstacles that hold back effective behaviours and performance.
To start coaching for excellence, it is useful to have a proven and objective behavioural measurement as benchmark and conversation starter. Furthermore, we need a coaching method to give structure to the conversation and guide the individual change process.
Advanced behavioural measurement
To create behavioural awareness, we need an objective measurement. This is often where psychometric measurements come in. A psychometric tool simply seeks to make predictions about some of the aspects of people completing it. However, a business needs to be careful to select the right tool to improve behavioural effectiveness and performance.
Well known psychometric tools like DISC and Myers-Briggs are very valuable to helps individuals to understand themselves and others. However, these tools measure preferences or personality rather than thinking styles, behaviours or mindset. Personal preferences are relatively stable and hard to change, whilst self-thought, behaviours and mindset can be changed through coaching.
As the most used psychometric tool in the world, Myers Briggs is based on only one psychologic insight; Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types, whilst other tools use a variety of well-known psychologist. But most importantly, in Myers Briggs, no preference or personality type is considered ‘superior’ or more effective to other preferences. If our objective is to seek more effective S&OP and performance improvement through behavioural excellence, we therefor need a psychometric tool that provides a strong basis for that. Personality measurements hardly provide that basis.
Psychometric tools like Mental Toughness, Life Styles Inventory (LSI) and Emotional Intelligence do measure thinking and behaving, are proven to be changeable and are positively associated with better individual health, well-being and performance. The below graph show some researched examples.
Mental Toughness is positively associated with up to 25% of performance improvement, reduced stress and better decision making under pressure. The constructive behavioural styles in LSI are positively associated with inter-unit coordination, work relationships and external adaptability. These are all very important aspects of S&OP and measuring and improving the thinking and behaviours associated with those aspects will make S&OP more effective.
To coach individual to improve their behaviours, we can’t just tell them what effective behaviours, how to think and behave and then expect that this will change. We need to help them create awareness and help develop more effective behaviours.
It takes structure and a considerable amount of time to make individuals aware, accept and take action on their mindset and behaviours. Many people are not even aware of some of their behaviours and the impact on themselves and others. To structure conversations and help with the individual change management we can use coaching models. Two straight forward coaching models are AAA and the GROW model.
The GROW model starts with the Goal, the end point where the coachee wants to be. Once the goal is clearly defined, the focus is on the Reality, to create an understanding on how far they are from reaching their goals and what issues and challenges they have. Challenges and issues will define the Obstacles for which Options can be identified. That last step is to convert options to actions and a Way forward.
Using the AAA model to support individual change, a coach has to create behavioural Awareness in the coachee. Then a coach needs to guide an individual in Accepting that these behaviours are not effective. Without acceptance we can’t move on to the next step; Action. Once an individual has accepted a need for change in their behaviours, a coach can help create an action plan to develop more effective behaviours. The coach will follow through and hold a person accountable to stick to the improvement plan. A coach will also provide intervention techniques a person can use in real life situation like an S&OP meeting.
Impact on S&OP effectiveness
A critical mass of senior leaders with increased self-awareness, emotional intelligence and the willingness to detect, manage and improve their own behaviours, will have a positive effect on S&OP effectiveness and business in general. The boardroom environment, S&OP meetings and day to day business will show improved listening, constructive challenge to come with better solutions, risk appetite, commitment and follow through on actions. We will see improved relations with better cross functional working and individual satisfaction, health well-being and performance.
These boardroom improvements are very real to support business growth! Take the example of a senior executive from a multi-billion $ company I coached. With the help of the Mental Toughness psychometric tool, we discovered that this individual struggled with challenging the CEO and peers in the leadership team. A lack of challenge in the boardroom, leads to Groupthink.
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon, which occurs when a group of people, in which the desire for harmony results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. The whole boardroom goes along with the same decision, because it is easier. In a recent interview in the Australian, chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, John Brogden, states that Groupthink is the greatest risk to corporate growth in Australia.
Once my coaching counterpart developed this awareness, the coaching conversation could focus on how to address and improve challenging the status quo in the boardroom. A lot of the coaching conversation focused on self-thought, self-confidence and techniques on how to work towards asking a tough and challenging question to the CEO. Coaching this individual on personal traits like confidence and challenge did unlock hidden potential, helped this individual and indirectly the business.
Once a critical mass of leaders and S&OP stakeholders show effective mindset and behaviours, S&OP effectiveness will increase. With increasing process and behavioural effectiveness, the S&OP meetings will become the most important governance structure in the business, significantly supporting company performance and influencing a more effective and positive company culture.