Archive for the ‘Employee Engagement’ Category

h1

Engagement Reflection

December 24, 2013

I’m a big fan of being more engaged in your life…engaged in your work…engaged in your family…engaged in your community.  Being engaged in it all is what life is all about.  So when I read stats like workers being stretched too thin I can only imagine the depth their engagement has sunk, not only at work but also in their personal world.

According to a CEB sponsored report on 2013 Business Outcomes (download at http://bit.ly/1k2P9wp) “80% of employees say that their workloads have already increased in the past three years and 55% say that they can no longer handle the resulting levels of stress.”  This is a reality that most companies are not addressing considering global executives in the report stated “…the key to delivering profitable growth is a 20% increase in staff productivity, even above current levels.”  Note there is no mention of increasing staff, just increasing the existing staff’s productivity.

When I decided to become a productivity and time efficiency coach and consultant the driving factor was that most people have not been taught and are not being taught how to manage information overload, use time wisely and get work done in the smartest way possible.  Two of my favorite client statements are “No one ever told me that before!” or “I didn’t know I could do that!”   In reality, my clients pay out of their own pocket…they have decided to take control and have the funds to do so.  When they are faced with a call for “20% increase in staff productivity” the step they took was to get help.  They get help for themselves because schools don’t teach classes on being productive and most companies don’t offer productivity educational sessions as part of the available “training classes.”  But that needs to change because everyone should have the option to learn how to manage their time in a way that works for them and be their best productive selves.

Because when people get the training they need in all areas (not just technical or industry knowledge) they have a greater chance of increasing their own engagement…in their work, in their family, in their community…in their life.  And that is what it is all about!

So take some time over this holiday break to reflect on the type of training or increase in skills or knowledge you need to get better and more engaged.

h1

Is Corporate Loyalty Dead?

December 4, 2013

Nope, but it is a former version of itself.  It doesn’t look the way it looked 30 years ago…gone are the days (for most) of working at a company for 25 to 30+ years and retiring with the gold watch.  So if loyalty from employees is different…what is it, how do you define it, and most importantly…how do you capitalize on it?  Consider this example…

In my local December 1st paper there was an article on airline frequent flier miles and transferable policies.  It compared the largest U.S.-based airlines on clear and published polices vs. vague, unpublished and inconsistently applied policies.  It also compared on specific policies like if the accumulated points were transferable and if a fee was charged, or not, on transferring the points.  Another policy compared was whether there were limits to whom you could give your points too, especially after death.  (In case you are wondering, US Airways was the clear winner on providing clear guidelines and in my opinion had the best consumer policies.)  And the last sentence of the article packed the biggest punch…”the average American is a member of 22 loyalty programs.”  Twenty-two!  A quick look in my wallet had me as a member of 16 loyalty programs.  I was kinda surprised…who knew I could be so loyal?  The research firm in the article – Colloquy – estimates that “memberships in such programs increased more than 26% in the past 2 years, and all those miles, points and rewards are worth some $50 billion.”

Clearly Americans love loyalty programs.  Why?  While the programs provide repeat customers to the company, in the consumer’s eye they benefit greatly, and in some cases in really big ways. (Think lots of free flights.)  A loyalty program puts me at the center…I get sneak peeks on new items, first notification of big sales, free products and some special treatment.  Loyalty programs put ME first (or for the most part I have agreed to believe they do)!

But companies are different with their employees…they expect loyalty before giving you big rewards. Consider that for the most part all I have to do is sign up for a consumer-based loyalty program and I’m accepted.  So what if companies flipped the idea of “loyalty”.   What if loyalty was no longer equated with job stability or employment for life, as it is defined today.  But what if it was defined as how a company invests in you – from day one.  Put the employee at the center, support them in their development, provide clear, published expectations and throw in some fun rewards!  And remember to remind me of why I am loyal…a consumer-based loyalty program reminds me every time I check out and get a discount with my card or redeem my miles/points for free stuff.  Companies need to do the same too.

Final thought:  To all the companies…It’s true, I may not be employed with you for the next 20 years but we could have a good 3-to 5-to 7-year run in which I do right by you and you do right by me.  Loyalty, redefined.

h1

What have you fixed today?

November 21, 2013

I should clarify…what have you fixed at work today?  Not to downplay the importance of the things we fix at home (Superman has me to thank for getting his head back on), but let’s focus on work.  Think back over your day, your week…what problems did you solve, what issue did you fix?  Showing up every day at work — in your office, cubicle, window table at Starbucks, or dining room converted into a home office — did you add value by solving a problem?

For some it is an easy question with an easy answer…for others, not so much.  In the September issue of Talent Management magazine, a column by Jac Fitz-enz, talked about an experience he had at a hospital in which the doctors told him he had a problem and they were going to figure out what it was and fix it.  He discusses the “massive” investment in the machines, technology and facilities the hospital had made and pinpoints the real competitive advantage…”all that technology would be useless without the knowledge and skill of the people to leverage it.”  And in this case they leveraged it to fix him.  Now his article focuses on what HR/OD/TM divisions within companies should do to help fix business problems.  His argument is strong, but let’s take it one step further.  To you.  Yes, you add value to your company, to your team, to your clients and vendors when you solve problems…but more importantly you add value to yourself.

So look around…do see an issue, concern or problem…are you the one to fix it?  As 2013 quickly wraps up end your year strong by adding value to your work world (and take some time to add value to your personal world as well).

h1

Well That is Just Depressing

November 7, 2013

I recently read in my local paper an article titled “Not happy with work? Wait till you’re 50 or older.”  The article provided data from a study conducted by The Associated Press – NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.  The study found that 9 in 10 workers who are 50 years or older say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their job.  It seems older workers, regardless of who they are, reported higher satisfaction with their job.  The assumption drawn from the study was that “older workers generally have already climbed the career ladder, increased their salaries and reached positions where they have greater security, so more satisfaction makes sense.”  The study also reports that 38% of young adults express deep satisfaction with their work as compared to 63% of those 65 years and older.

So if I’m not engaged and satisfied with my work I should just wait until I get older?   That can’t be right.  Yes, I understand the subtle point the article is making…there are more variables to cause me unhappiness in a job the younger I am.  And as I age I can become more settled in the direction of my life and my career.  But waiting till I am 50 years or older to be satisfied in my work is just depressing.

When I work with companies or teach classes/workshops on employee engagement I break engagement down into four parts, four equal parts yet some are truly more important than others.  Those four parts are the individual, the manager, the team, the company. (For smaller companies there may only be three parts as the company isn’t large enough to have different teams.)  Engagement starts with the individual so the idea of just waiting around to grow older to become satisfied or engaged doesn’t add up.  You can’t motivate someone who doesn’t want to be motivated but it is an employee’s responsibility to show up willing, with a mindset, that he or she wants to and can be engaged in their work.  And that doesn’t just happen with age.  That happens by choice.

h1

Do you care for me?

October 21, 2013

I recently conducted qualitative research for a graduate school thesis…how employees perceive leadership as told through their worst boss stories.

At the heart of looking at worst boss stories is being able to peel back what is hard to articulate in a positive boss relationship.  Worst boss stories allow you to drill down to what is really important when a relationship isn’t what it is supposed to be because what is actually needed is able to come through more clearly.  This research provides a back-to-basics step in clarifying what employees really want from the relationship with their boss.  My research shows there are two overarching themes…employees expressed a need for task support and emotional support.  Now this is not a new revelation but the research provides an additional body of research from a different perspective, one not told in academic research.

So why study leadership and the boss/subordinate relationship?  Some would consider it to be an over-exhaustive subject.  Because we are human and we like to study relationships.  Outside of marriage and raising kids there is not another relationship we focus on more than the boss/subordinate relationship, which is at the heart of leadership.  Let’s face it, when something is a main constant in our lives we have a tendency to obsess about it.  In fact, as a society, we are obsessed with leadership.  A recent Amazon.com search pulled up almost 85,000 books on the topic of leadership.  Which provides another reason for my research – to cut through the enormous amount of styles…situational, country club, charismatic, authentic, and what about being creative…and focus on the relationship.

From the stories told and understanding what task and emotional support is as defined by my research provides a simple, though often overlooked reality of the boss-subordinate relationship.  When you drill down to the heart of what employees are looking for they need three things from the boss subordinate relationship which I call the Leadership Covenant³™.  The tenants of the covenant are:

1. Care about me
2. Guide me
3. Speak up for me

Employees want to know you care about them.  In a recent article in the Fortune magazine Frank Blake, CEO of Home Depot talked about the first step to improving customer service is to “start by taking care of the associates.”  Blake goes on to talk about the first question an employee will ask of the company, which isn’t about training, but is “Does the company care about me?”  It is a basic first step in building the relationship.  Companies must care and bosses must care.  I believe when you stop caring about the people you lead you cease to be a leader.

Employees want to be guided.  They want direction, but they don’t want to be controlled or dis-respected.  Academic research shows that one of the three reasons someone stays at a company is direction.  To be engaged and a contributor to the company’s success you have to know what you are doing and what is expected of you.

Employees want a boss to speak up for them.  Be an advocate…look out for employee’s interest, help them develop their skills and career, understand what drives and motivates them. And when you are speaking up for the employee, don’t take credit for what they did.  Simple enough, surprisingly hard for many to execute on.  (Read this article if you have a boss who takes the credit and blames the failures on you.)

The Leadership Covenant³ is simple to understand, but execution seems to provide the most hurdles.  So what do you think?  Take our poll and don’t forget to share your comments.

 

 

 

h1

Levels of Aspiration

April 25, 2012

Do you have a “level of aspiration” when it comes to your work and career? When you mash Tamara Dembo’s and Kurt Lewin’s “level of aspiration” theory with David McClelland’s work on achievement motivation an interesting concept starts to take shape.  Some of us will reach a level within our work or career and will not desire to go any higher.  According to McClelland some of us are just not born with a high desire to achieve.  But of course some of us are.  Makes sense, right?

So if this makes sense why do companies tie themselves in knots trying to figure out why employees may not want to reach the corner office, become a partner, or at the very least take that next promotion?  Now of course this is the opposite of the Peter Principle (which is being promoted to a level of incompetence).  If you have a boss who suffers from the Peter Principle – remember he or she allowed themselves to be promoted to that level (and they may not be aware of their incompetence, which is always the kicker).

But I digress. The level a person wants to reach in terms of title, responsibility, expected connectivity and stress is different for each person and in society we tend to frown upon those who don’t aspire for more.  But is the reality that there is a lack of desire to become a corporate executive alive and well?

One new study from Intelligent Office (IO) found in a survey of 1,075 people no one, not even one person, aspired to become a corporate executive.  More than half, 65%, want to work as an entrepreneur or independent.  The “Work IQ” survey found a shift in work styles as well with an emphasis on more flexible work hours, have more mobility in life, and access to technology (like laptop or iPad) that affords the desired mobility.

The survey results bring up three thoughts for me…
1. Were the results a fluke due to our economic environment?  I mean there are approximately  157,000 students in MBA schools across the country (rough estimate from AACSB accredited schools).  Aren’t most MBAs in school because the masters degree could lead to the next promotion and possibly to a position as a corporate executive?
2. IO didn’t provide a breakdown of the demographics in the release so I’m not sure if their survey respondents reflect more of our working society versus their customer base (Intelligent Office is the leading virtual, professionally staffed office space for mobile executives and small businesses in North America).  If the respondents mirror their customer base then the results make sense.  If the respondents mirror more of the workforce as a whole then the results are a cause for concern.
3. Considering the results mirror our current workforce then it does mean a new trend is being highlighted.  Could a shortage of corporate executives be on the horizon, exacerbated by the Baby Boomer retirements?

What would a shortage of potential corporate executives mean for your company?

h1

There’s an Employee Appreciation Day?

March 5, 2012

Did you know last Friday, March 2 was Employee Appreciation Day?  Yep, just one day on a random Friday that I guess probably went unnoticed by your boss or at your office.  And thank goodness it did.  Can you imagine celebrating Employee Appreciation Day when your company doesn’t appreciate employees in general – makes for an uncomfortable pizza or cake party?  Reminds me of a client meeting last year when it was mentioned that “Administrative Professionals Day” was coming up and they all quickly grabbed their phones and made a note of it. It’s like grandparents day too.  If it takes a day for you to recognize and thank your employees or assistant (or even your grandparents)…you might be dealing with a bigger problem. 

Why does it take a publicized day to remind you to thank those who make your life better (assuming your employees, assistant and grandparents actually make your life easier)?  In theory we understand the statement that companies don’t function without their employees is true but sometimes theory and practice couldn’t be farther apart.  You, and every boss or leader at your company should be showing your appreciation to employees often and for reasons that matter.   So what are the reasons that matter?  Here’s a bright idea…ask them.  Those employees can be quite clever and they typically know what matters to them in terms being recognized because they are appreciated.  I’ll give you a few ideas to get started when recognition and appreciation is needed…taking on a stretch project no matter the outcome, going above and beyond the “typical” work load, coaching or mentoring another employee, dealing with a  difficult client, trying to stay focused on work when dealing with a personal issue…and there are so many more. 

Also, don’t show appreciation for just showing up – that is hollow and meaningless.  One of the greatest ways to show appreciation is to thank your employees individually for their contribution and explaining how their contribution matters to the company.  Make the connection to how they matter to the work they do, to the company’s clients and the company overall.  When you are able to consistently show your appreciation you’ll never think twice about a throwing an awkward pizza party on some random Friday in March to remind your employees you care and they matter.

%d bloggers like this: