There are six important evidence-based practices that high performance managers and leaders use that sets them apart from other managers according to Fit4BusinessGrowth Project Manager, John Moore.
Evidence-based Management and Leadership
‘Evidence-based’ is a term that was originally coined in the 1990s in the field of medicine, but today it’s principles extend across many disciplines and sectors, including business and management.
Evidence-based management and leadership is not about how to manage, how to lead or how to communicate and motivate. It is not about the ideas of the latest management and leadership guru or a new leadership fad. The basic idea of evidence-based practice is that good-quality decisions should be based on a combination of critical thinking and the best available evidence. Although most managers take into account evidence when making decisions, many pay little attention to the quality of that evidence. The result is bad decisions based on unfounded beliefs, fads and ideas popularised by management gurus. The bottom line is bad decisions, poor outcomes, and limited understanding of why things go wrong.
Evidence-based practice seeks to improve the way decisions are made. It is an approach to decision-making and day-to-day work practice that helps managers to critically evaluate the extent to which they can trust the evidence they have at hand.
What are the Six Evidence-based Practices?
Practice #1: Be Clear on Direction
Knowing where you are going is CRITICAL. In terms of a business, this means having clear, well-designed, result-driven strategy that is communicated throughout the business. It should underpin all major decisions and be pursued vigorously. A few simple, but crystal clear strategic goals will provide focus, motivation and direction.
Practice #2: Key Performance Measures
For each strategy goal, there must be a set of meaningful, quantitative performance measures. They need to be aligned to what matters most and help to drive continuous performance improvements. To be an effective meaningful measure, it must be observable, easy to capture, accurate and timely.
Practice #3: Implementation Plans
Practice 3 is all about the EXECUTION of plans. Simple, clear plans developed with inputs from relevant, knowledgeable people (e.g. managers and employees) based on ‘evidence’ and that are not executed, count for nothing. High performance requires taking action sooner rather than later.
Practice #4: Empowering People to Take Decisions
The best way of encouraging people to take ownership and responsibility is to involve them in developing the strategies and plans they will implement to impact on and to deliver the organisation’s key performance measures and results. People need to be given a clear line of sight to the organisation’s strategy.
Practice #5: Driving and Sustaining Action
Assuming the business is moving in the right direction (Practice #1: Be Clear on Direction), it needs to create and build momentum. This is about is about helping people get the right things done to achieve the results that matter (Practice #2: Key Performance Measures). This is achieved through giving people the authority and time to make decisions (Practice #4: Empowering People to Take Decisions).
Practice #6: Learning and Growing
We can learn from mistakes and failure as well as success. Learning and growing is about encouraging people to experiment, to try new ideas and to learn quickly from small-scale failures at the same time as iterating successes. High performance leaders use performance measures (Practice #2: Key Performance Measures) as tools to learn about effective processes and performance rather than just as measuring sticks. Failure can drive performance as much as success.
High Performance Organisations
High performance organisations rely on high performance managers who in turn rely on high performance teams. Knowing what high performance looks like and driving a high performance culture requires an evidence-based approach to management and leadership – this has to start at the top!
A high performance culture develops only when top management uses performance measures to review results to find better ways of supporting managers and employees to drive and to perform. When managers and employees understand that accountability means solving problems and NOT as an ‘instrument to apportion blame’, they will take ownership of their own performance. When people are curious and when they choose to work collaboratively, organisations achieve momentum propelling them towards the achievement of strategic goals.
It all starts with the CEO or business owner practising the habits of evidence-based leadership and management. By using evidence-based practice, businesses can transform the performance of the organisation and people. The six evidence-based practices are embedded in the Fit4BusinessGrowth Model.