The Job Is The Boss, Why Do Organisations Have COOs & The 4 Stages Of Competence
4 February 2024 Newsletter
“When you tell someone why they’re doing a bad job, you’re transferring the responsibility. Maybe they improve. Maybe they leave. Whatever the outcome, they own it.” Ron Shaich
Hope you’re Thriving!
It’s great to be back.
I’ve enjoyed a mild Australian summer with time off, relaxing and recuperating, and I’ve started writing a new book! More on that to come, but let’s get started without further ado!
The Job Is The Boss
This week Hanssen Construction founder Gerry Hanssen transitioned from Managing Director to a board role, with General Manager Darren Linton stepping into the Managing Director role. Gerry isn’t planning on retiring at all. At 78 years of age, he hopes to be walking the sites until his 100th birthday; “Giving everyone the sh*ts”, in a wholesome way as he puts it.
While Darren is technically the new boss, the Hanssen culture dictates that the JOB is the real BOSS, following 12 non-negotiable rules for all to follow (see image below).
What I love about these rules is that if I’m your employer, the job that must be done is inarguable. It’s not because I like or don’t like you. The job dictates what must be done and how.
A favourite of mine is the last one – 12. YOUR future is judged by the above actions. This reminds me of the quote from Ron Shaich of Panera Bread at the beginning of this email: all we can do is tell people what needs to be done and whether or not they’re doing it well. Then, it’s on them.
Why Do Organisations Have COOs?
This week, I came across an interesting article from McKinsey that discussed the role of the COO. In many of the teams we work with, we’re seeing the emergence of the COO (sometimes called the General Manager in Australia) to complement the CEO’s role.
One thing I liked was the five questions that COOs were asked to build a plan to enact their vision.
From the article;
A vision without a plan is just a wish—progress is unlikely to happen by itself. A solid plan is essential for moving forward.
To build a robust plan, COOs should ask themselves the five following series of questions, corresponding to the five above core agenda elements:
- Operations: What is the organisation’s current performance and capability? What will it take to achieve performance aligned with the vision?
- Stakeholders: What are the expectations of the CEO and other members of the C-suite? What about the board, employees, and customers?
- Culture: What is the organisation’s culture, and does it need to adapt or change? How can I influence those changes?
- Team: Are the right team members in the right roles? Does the organisational structure support the operational requirements necessary to achieve the vision?
- Yourself: What are my strengths and weaknesses? Am I meeting the requirements of my role?
By gaining a thorough understanding across these five areas, the COO can identify gaps and challenges to achieving their vision, enabling quick action in areas where change is needed.
Read the article here: Why Do Organisations Have COOs?
The 4 Stages Of Competence
How often have you told yourself that you can’t do something because of who you are? Have you said, “I’m just not an organised person”? Or “I’m so bad at X”? Or “Maybe I’m just worse than other people at X”?
In 1969, Matthew Broadwell created a concept called the “Four Stages of Competence.” You can see the graphic to visualise it. Let’s walk through the stages using a skill you’ve mastered: reading.
Stage 1 in the red zone: Unconscious Incompetence.
This is when you’re unaware of a skill or don’t see its value. Imagine being a toddler; you don’t even know reading exists. Similarly, in time management, people seldom reach out here because they’re either unaware of their deficiency or don’t see the value in improvement.
Stage 2 in the yellow zone: Conscious Incompetence.
Here, you know you lack a skill but need help to acquire it. Picture a pre-schooler observing others read but not knowing where to start. Many seek guidance for skills like time management at this stage.
Stage 3 in the green zone: Conscious Competence.
Here, you know what to do, but it takes effort. We call it the “knowing-doing gap.” In reading, think of a kindergarten student learning letters and their sounds. Fluent reading takes consistent effort. Learning new skills often keeps you here as you learn and build habits.
Stage 4 in the blue zone: Unconscious Competence.
This is when the skill becomes second nature. When reading, you don’t consciously think about each word; you just read.
Unconscious Competence is earned through hard work. You may not recall learning to read, but you benefit daily. Recall kindergarten days when progress felt slow, and you stumbled over words. But you persevered.
Reading, time management, any skill you want to learn, you can. To reach Unconscious Competence, invest effort, one step at a time.
To know whether you’ve progressed from one stage to another, here are some questions to ask:
From Stage 1 to Stage 2:
- Do I recognise my shortcomings in [X]?
- Do I understand what it takes to advance in [X]?
From Stage 2 to Stage 3:
- Can I excel in [X] significantly?
- Have I successfully avoided novice errors in my last ten attempts at [X]?
From Stage 3 to Stage 4:
- Can I perform [X] effortlessly at a top-1% level?
- Do others perceive me as making [X] look effortless?
If you can’t do something effortlessly, there’s nothing wrong. You’re on the journey to Unconscious Competence as long as you persist and seek help when needed.
Gen X Versus Gen Z Approach to Phone Calls
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