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"Truth telling is the one fundamentals that makes building the team possible." Bruce Bodaken and Robert Fritz, The Managerial Moment of Truth: The Essential Step in Helping People Improve Performance

Every day, you're faced with situations that can mire your organization in confusion, lack of accountability, and subpar outcomes - or that can improve performance, enhance communication, and create a high-octane culture of results. The difference is in how you approach these situations, these "managerial moments of truth." The MMOT assessment process, created by Bruce Bodaken and Robert Fritz, can help your people improve performance. How you put it to work in your team?

What is MMOT?

The term "managerial moment of truth," or MMOT, describes the "critical moments" that can determine a manager or leader's "destiny." When faced with such a situation (e.g. subpar performance; continual conflict), you have the option to ignore it or address it. The MMOT process is a method by which you can confront the issue in a way that allow individuals, and the team as a whole, to learn and grow.

As the authors note, "Managerial moments of truth often concern how people interact with each other, rather than how each individual performs... It's common to see teams governed by underlying dynamics that make it difficult for people to truly join forces on behalf of their goals." Using the MMOT, you can change these dynamics to improve team performance - and the overall effectiveness of the organization.

The question is how do you put the MMOT into action with your team? Try the same four-step process that you would use with an individual:

Step 1: Acknowledge Reality.

You have to get to the truth - not to the feelings and emotions - of the situation. To do so, ask these critical questions:

  • What is the reality of the situation?
  • What evidence do we have?
  • Are we seeing all the essential aspects of the situation?
  • Is the data valid?
  • How do we know?

Step 2: Analyze the Team's Thought Processes.

Here, the team takes steps back and examines its approach and performance. The goal is to do so objectively.

Step 3: Create an Action Plan.

The team decides how it is going to change its approach and details specific steps in a plan.

Step 4: Establish Ongoing Feedback.

In regular meetings, groups can monitor progress and take action to course-correct, if needed.

MMOT In Action

In Managerial Moment of Truth, Bodaken and Fritz illustrate the power of the MMOT process: a senior executive at a large high-tech firm suggested that his cross-functional products team introduce a new product line.

Meeting after meeting, PowerPoint after PowerPoint, and the team was nowhere. They had nothing. Finally, someone asked, "Who is the target customer?" Oh.

Through that simple (brave!) question, they realized they had no idea what they were trying to accomplish. This was their critical moment of truth. So the team asked questions: what's the reality of the situation, what do we know, what did we assume?

They realized that they started the project without clear understanding or purpose. Together, they acknowledged the truth, asked tough questions, analyzed the situation, and studied the competition - and themselves - objectively.

Clearing a Path Towards Results

MMOT enabled this team to identify what they were trying to accomplish, work out whether it was feasible, create a plan, and then work towards it. They were eventually successful in rolling out a new product line.

"The group," Bodaken and Fritz write, "transformed itself from one that avoided difficult decisions to a team that cut off hypothesizing in favor of real data, questioned one another more freely, sought clarity where needed, and engaged in a collective thought process."

By the way, MMOT is the same process Bruce Bodaken, former CEO of BlueShield of California, used with his organization. He credits it for helping his team unleash 25 to 40 percent of their "underutilized capacity" at little to no cost. During his tenure, BlueShield increased revenues from $3 billion to $8 billion. The willingness to tell the truth, question, clarify, and engage as a team can yield significant benefits to the bottom line.

Here's your moment of truth: every day you are handed opportunities that can help you boost the performance of your entire team and of your organization as a whole. Are you willing, and able, to seize them? With MMOT, you will be.


Larry Hart

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