The following Internal Transactions activity is adapted from Leadership In Child Protection (Schneider, Crow, & Burtnett, 2000, p. 56-57) and is one you may want to add to your management tools when working with employees and especially when working with Leadership Team members. It is a quick way of assessing the quality of employees interactions at a specific point in time. More importantly, it is a strategy to improve their interactions with each other over time. This serves not only to improve their interactions with each other but serves to improve their interactions with other agency stakeholders. Additionally, it clearly lets employees know what you value and what you expect from them as they interact with each other and with agency stakeholders.
Interpersonal excellence starts inside your agency. The success of your Leadership Team depends, in part, on relationships, people interacting with people. Think about a single transaction, one person interacting with another. This elementary transaction is the smallest unit or building block from which connections with stakeholders develop.
Your agency’s Leadership Connections can be no stronger than the cumulative strength of the thousands and thousands of transactions in which your staff participate over time. What’s more, you should assume the quality of your staff’s external transactions, interactions with stakeholders, is the same as you see in their internal transactions, interactions with each other. Assume they relate to stakeholders as well or as badly as they relate to each other.
Below is a list of transaction elements you can use to assess your agency’s internal, interpersonal environment. You do this by rating your staff’s typical functioning on each of the ten elements. Rate your staff “5” on the element if it is most always present in your staff members’ transactions with each other. Use “4” for usually, “3” for much of the time, “2” for sometimes, and “1” for usually not.
- Are friendly and positive with each other.
- Listen calmly and respectfully when others are talking.
- Are sensitive to and accepting of cultural, ethnic, and lifestyle differences.
- Are where they are expected, when they are expected.
- Are consistent and predictable, not on-again off-again, do not run hot and cold.
- Are interested in each others issues and concerns, problems and difficulties.
- Have a helpful and cooperative approach with each other.
- Keep commitments and follow through with agreements.
- Return phone calls, respond to messages, and get back to others when expected.
- Treat each other as well as you expect them to treat all agency stakeholders.
Add your ten ratings together and divide by 10. This gives you an internal transaction score for your agency. An important goal for your Leadership Team is increasing the internal transaction score over time.
Here is an effective strategy to increase your agencys internal transaction score. Monthly, randomly select 10% of your staff to do the above rating for the agency. If your total staff is under fifty, select five staff members each month to be the raters.
Have the raters spend no more than five minutes doing the ratings and be sure they do not consult with each other while completing the ratings. Simply have each rater complete an Internal Transaction Rating Form you develop using the ten elements above.
When the months forms are returned, calculate the internal transaction score on each form by adding the ratings on each item together and dividing by 10. Then, total the internal transaction scores from the forms. Suppose you have 30 forms. You total the 30 individual internal transaction scores and then divide by 30. You divide by the number of forms actually returned. The resulting internal transaction score for the agency will be between 1.0 and 5.0 each month.
Although the agency’s score may go up and down slightly from month to month, do not focus on the month to month fluctuations. You are looking for a gradually increasing score over time. Create a chart or graph and share it with all staff so they can see how the score changes over time.
The Leadership Team will want to develop specific training and other activities to improve the agencys internal transaction score. They will also want to consistently model the desired behavior. Whether there are special activities or not, the simple process of measuring and posting the agencys score each month will lead to a gradual increase in that score over time, assuming Leadership Team members consistently model the wanted behavior.