Build Great Culture with A.C.T.

If you have direct reports, you are a leader and manager. Your most important job is to create a productive culture and motivate your team. Many fail.

ACT is a pneumonic that is useful in reminding leaders how to motivate and create great cultures. It is an acronym standing for:

  • Accountability: getting things done by Leading and Managing well
  • Coaching: asking for and providing help
  • Transparency: creating trust and 2-way feedback

Start improving your team’s culture and performance by incorporating these ideas into all team meetings and by setting up recurring ACT meetings. ACT meetings are 1-to-1 meetings between managers and their reports. Schedule them about weekly at all levels of the organization.

At these meetings, the three elements of ACT should get focused attention:

Accountability is agreeing to:

  • A priority outcome (vision, objectives, results, goals, measures);
  • Actions to deliver it (action items, rocks, initiatives, resolving issues);
  • Whether actions were completed
  • If you achieved the outcome

Coaching is assessing the current health of a person, team, department, initiative or business.

State both the good and the not good.

For the not good detail:

  • What the issue is and its causes
  • A proposed solution (by the person raising it)
  • The best solution together

Solutions can include providing resources for success like:

• Training
• Tools and Technology
• People
• Focus
• Advice and Guidance
• Support

Transparency is sharing (to a manager, peer, or report) feedback on what they are doing, using the following format:

Like: “These are the specific actions that I like that you are doing.”

Wish that: “These are the specific actions that I wish you would do differently.”

The receiver of the Feedback should:

  • Ensure understanding by rephrasing it
  • Thank and let giver know that you will consider how to address it
  • Decide what changes, if any, you will make
  • Get back to giver with decision and reasoning
  • Follow-up later to see if changes help

Once you see some success at 1-to-1 meetings, you can add ACT elements to any meeting or event:

  • Retrospectives with each person noting a team good and a needs improvement idea
  • Set goals, track and share outcomes as a team
  • Make problem solving an agenda item
  • Rate meetings and share improvement ideas
  • Identify needs and support each other as a team
  • With radical transparency, individual feedback can be shared openly in group meetings when the team is properly trained

In addition, teams should periodically rate how well they are implementing the ACT components to look for the areas where they can improve most. Get your team to rate themselves, then problem solve solutions for areas with low average scores.

Use the ACT Checkup to learn how I went from ignoring culture to using ACT to build high performing teams. It is an exercise that is intended to teach how to build great culture and create high performing, more motivated teams at all levels.

After taking about 30 minutes to have your team members complete the checkup, you’ll have the context and information you need to prioritize action items that will start delivering the culture you want. With continued practice, you will see noticeable results quickly.

The checkup can help you to incorporate these practices into your team’s routines. It has 5 checkpoints that evaluate team behaviors for each ACT area. Accountability has two sub-areas, Lead and Manage. These work together to deliver Accountability. This creates a total of 20 checkpoints of evaluation.

Find out more about evaluating ACT and get the check-up survey here for free.

This article was adapted by practicing and adapting the ideas of A.C.T. as as introduced in: Mochary, Matt; MacCaw, Alex; Talavera, Misha. The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building (p. 133). The concept of Accountability being a result of Leading and Managing well comes from the LMA discussion in: Wickman, Gino. Traction (p. 96).

3 Replies to “Build Great Culture with A.C.T.”

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