Oct 1, 2012
High Challenge High Support Model
Today we have an excellent post from Ali Stewart about the High Challenge High Support mindset for Leading & Developing High Performance:
I need to talk to you about making a 1-stage sponge and how this relates to the High Challenge High Support mindset in leadership.
We were making a very quick chocolate cake, my 13 year old son and I, and he was keen to do as much as he could. It is a while since we’d made a cake and we were short of time. I decided a quick 1-stage sponge was all that was needed. So Rory measured out the butter, sugar, flour and drinking chocolate and put them in a bowl. We were now ready for the eggs, we needed 3.
I cracked the first one on the side of the bowl and dropped the egg in to remind Rory how to do it. He cracked the next one and did it with such force, the egg smashed and went everywhere and only a bit went in the bowl. Rory looked at the big puddle of egg on the board in dismay, the crumpled egg shell in his hand.
“Never mind” I said, quickly scooping up the egg and popping it in the bowl. “Crack the next one, and let’s get this cake done.”
He looked at me in absolute surprise and said “You’ve gotta be joking, after that fiasco?” “Of course” I said, “You need to practise, and I’m sure you’ll do it fine this time.” He cracked the next egg perfectly. We got the mixture mixed, into the oven and a perfect chocolate cake emerged.
I have to say, I was sorely tempted to crack the 3rd egg to avoid further mishap and time was of the essence, but checked myself, because that would have left Rory feeling that he was useless when it came to cracking eggs. That thought would be with him next time he came to cook or bake, and it’s the kind of thing that can put you off even trying.
This happens all the time in the work environment. Many managers will re-write reports, staying late to get things done rather than asking their staff to do it, or taking back a job from an employee at the first hint of trouble. Or conversely, setting challenges, focusing on the task and not the person and expecting everything to be done perfectly every time. We often have a preference for one side of the high challenge high support mindset.
With too much Challenge you create a culture of fear, you get inconsistent achievement from your people, only a few will thrive in this kind of environment, and typically staff turnover is high.
With too much Support you create a culture of comfort, you get moderate achievement from your staff because typically you do too much and they are never challenged to be the best they can be.
Get the balance right, and you get consistent high achievement and development from your people – which is what you want.
So, there are 6 clear principles which underpin this High Challenge High Support mindset, ensuring you get the balance right most of the time.
1) Expect high performance and create a picture in your mind of the person performing at their very best, If you expect anything less you are setting people up to fail.
2) Operate with a mindset of Positive Regard and Genuineness. You regard them as a good decent person, and you give them frank, honest feedback about their performance.
3) Catch people doing something right, continually, every day!
4) Give explicit instructions initially so people clearly understand what is required. When you set clear boundaries to enable high performance, people know what to do to succeed.
5) Don’t do all the work yourself. Your performer needs to learn and grow. You are trying to get them to a state where they are internally motivated to do the task and become expert in it.
6) Make goals attainable so you don’t demoralise your people. A series of incremental improvements towards an overall goal of excellence is easier than aiming for excellence straight off.
I’ll finish with this lovely quote which encapsulates the High Challenge High Support mindset:
“Managers light a fire beneath, leaders light a fire within.”
What kind of leader are you and have you got the High Challenge High Support mindset cracked?