Performance Increases Require a Change in Attitude: A Level 4 Achievement
Attitudes and opinions are directly reflected by performance. Increasing performance, whether requiring an increase in skill, productivity, sales, profitability or in any measurable aspect of getting effective work done through others, demands an understanding that something needs to change, and that something must fundamentally begin with a change in attitude.
In order to begin the process of changing attitudes that affect performance, you first must get agreement on a simple tenet: Things are not now where we need or want them to be. For all adult learners, the process of getting a positive, desirable and perpetual change must begin with a desire for change. Creating that desire demands an understanding of what motivates people to act, clearly pointing out the benefits the individual receives from changing his or her personal behavior. The driving desire for change is founded in an understanding of both what needs to change and why. In order to find out the answer to both of those questions, you must properly diagnose the need.
As it has been clearly outlined in Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick’s (1979) Four Level Evaluation Model and asserted by many, this task is quite daunting. It’s difficult to measure the appropriate attitudes and opinions that must change in order to achieve a measurable Level 4 return on investment or monetary value assigned to the transference and utilization of trained materials and increase in performance.
There is, however, an instrument that has been used with management groups for more than 25 years: the Management Beliefs Questionnaire© (MBQ), a survey of management values. The MBQ has been proven not only to be very effective in diagnosing the need for changing attitudes and behaviors to increase productivity, but also in creating the needed documentary evidence to prove a definitive return on investment for the training provided as a result of diagnosing the need. It also delivers a programmed set of interventions to address each identified deficiency.
The MBQ measures attitude appropriateness in the following categories:
TOTAL: Attitudes regarding current management technologies associated with getting appropriate levels of productive output through limited resources;
TASK: The work itself;
PEOPLE: The need to motivate people to actually do the required work;
SYSTEMS: The need to work within a comprehensively designed management operating system;
CHANGE: The need to understand that change is necessary and desirable for achieving goals;
COOPERATION: The need to apply some of the basic tenets of teamwork to achieve a commonly defined and agreed upon set of goals and/or expectations.
The survey uses a percentile-appropriate response based on a semi-annually adjusted set of norms to ensure that each administration gives a clear picture of how the respondents compare to others taking the same survey around the same time. Raw data scores (compiled using a five-point Likert Scale) are converted into an adjusted, sliding-scale Appropriate Response, Strength and Weakness Matrix and Skill Inventory Report. This report will present probable answers to the following questions: “Why isn’t my operating system working?” and “What is the training need that must be addressed in increasing the level of productive output in my company?” The survey is administered before an intervention process is designed or implemented and then again within three weeks after the intervention process has concluded.
Although the objective and practical answers to those questions can only be answered through a series of observations to determine whether the diagnostic has measured actual performance or performance ability or whether it has simply measured a belief that has not been acted upon, the MBQ has been used to diagnose needs to be addressed in the design of training interventions. Such interventions, along with the MBQ, are intended to change the participant behaviors directly affecting productive output for organizations in manufacturing, sales, logistics and financial services, as well as other areas. The MBQ also provides measurable results in determining the value of the training received.
Given the more than $100 billion that is spent on training programs annually in the United States alone, it’s apparent that the MBQ is key to determining with precision what training needs must be addressed, why they must be addressed, and what the intended result is so that companies do not merely train for the sake of training but “train to the intended result.”
The instrument has been used in all types of companies. The statistical sampling of companies used in the preparation of this article compared results from companies specializing in banking, construction, dairy processes, steel manufacturing, mining, health services, retail operations and consumer goods manufacturing, and these companies range in size from 180 people to more than 20,000 people, with annual sales of between $3 million and $2.5 billion. However, it still must be noted in citing results that the MBQ is a diagnostic and the diagnostic results must, therefore, be appropriately acted upon by senior management in order for results to be realized.
The MBQ administered by Brooks International, is used to design and deliver a programmed set of interventions through the installation of custom-designed systems and applications that create alignment in corporate sub-cultures, improved performance, management acuity and leadership growth. When the diagnosed needs are appropriately acted upon, there are some statistically significant results (regardless of independent variables like company size, type of work, number of people, culture, environment, etc.) that should be noted:
• The mean Appropriate TOTAL Response increase for executive respondents following interventions indicated by the diagnostic: 7.25%
• The mean Appropriate TOTAL Response increase for middle-manager respondents following interventions indicated by the diagnostic: 9.78%
• The mean Appropriate TOTAL Response increase for front-line supervisor respondents following interventions indicated by the diagnostic: 12.89%
• The average increase in productivity (as measured primarily through a cost/unit produced baseline): Approximately 18.71%
• The average reduction in overall operating costs realized by companies employing the MBQ as a diagnostic tool in determining training interventions required in order to maximize the utilization of their operating systems: Between 10-12% annually
• Each percentile point increase in the overall mean Appropriate TOTAL Response is equivalent to an overall annualized saving of 10.1% of the overall operating costs.
The overall increase in productive output in companies employing the MBQ tool to determine their training intervention needs, however, is dependent on how senior management acts to realize the savings that will result from that increased productivity. Still, the MBQ has proven itself to be an effective diagnostic of need.
Attitudes and opinions and their associated value systems are not only reflected in the performance of individuals; they also have a direct influence on the overall performance of companies and their bottom line. Measuring attitudes and opinions may be difficult at best but, as the MBQ has proven, when done effectively, the results are more than worth the effort.