For leaders who want a clear blueprint for building a high-performance culture, Andrew Freedman and Paul Elliott have written the book they’ve been waiting for: Thrive.
Drawing on extensive experience in change management, organizational development, and performance consulting, Andrew and Paul share their systematic approach, known as the Exemplary Performance System (EPS), in a way that enables leaders to take immediate action to shift workforce engagement and performance.
Thrive teaches leaders how to create clarity and alignment around what high performance looks like and how to replicate it at scale, identify and eliminate barriers to performance excellence, effectively align individual and team priorities with those of the company, and build organizational systems and processes that accelerate business and financial results.
I recently caught up with Andrew to learn more about his and Paul’s new book.
What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment you realized these ideas needed to get out there?
Over the past twenty years, I’ve seen the pain and suffering that leaders experience trying to build high performing organizations, and the pain that employees experience every day. Leaders who are frustrated that their people don’t work harder, can’t achieve more, and that they, as leaders, can’t figure out how to change an existence where they work 70 hours a week, over 60% of which is in meetings, and can’t increase business performance commensurate with the volume of work they put in. Busy and beating budget expectations have seemed to be the currency on which many leaders are trading.
Over 70% of employees are uninspired at work, failing to contribute in ways that light them up, and even though the work we do at SHIFT has profound impact for our clients, the reach isn’t big enough for me yet. I know I can give more to this world to help us all think differently, and behave differently when it comes to building healthy and high-performing cultures.
I knew I had to get these ideas out on a more macro scale during one of the MBA courses I was teaching on leadership. One of my students, a senior director level leader at his firm, was particularly distressed because he couldn’t see how he was going to be able to successfully apply the concepts we were covering in his work environment.
While I had heard this comment from many students before, this student’s level of distress and hopelessness was particularly disturbing to me. The environment in which he worked seemed stifling, almost suffocating his creativity and motivation, and he was becoming apathetic, which is probably one of the worst ways for a person to be in life. He didn’t see a way forward in the company. That was a trigger or tipping point for me where I knew I had to step up to help the world see a better way to lead and build organizations.
What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?
The creation of clarity about what high levels of performance look like through the Role Excellence Profile (REP) process. No question about it. Once an organization has a clear vision, foundational values, and goals and strategies aligned on move toward the vision, hands down, the REP process is the most powerful part of our high performance system. The REP becomes the design point for everything else related to engagement and performance—interviewing, hiring, onboarding, training and development, coaching, mentoring, performance management, career planning, and even business process improvement—all link back to the REP.
What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?
Regardless of what I’m doing, I always think about what success looks like a first step in my thinking. A specific application is how I plan my years, months, weeks, and even days.
Take 2020, for example. I ended 2019 by envisioning what success would look like for 2020, qualitatively and quantitatively. Once I gained clarity on those things, I outlined what I needed to produce (an even deeper, more loving relationship with my wife, growth in SHIFT’s business, specific development of our team, measurable improvement in health and wellness). From there, I designed the most critical things I needed to do in order to achieve those success measures. This is a powerful and personal application of what we help leaders design when it comes to their most important business outcomes, and most critical roles.