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The Lies We Tell Ourselves

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Lead Star | News and Insights | On Our Minds | The Lies We Tell Ourselves.

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HOW do I improve my team’s productivity & engagement?

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve ranted before about “employee engagement” and how the buzz word drives me bonkers (see previous posts!). But even though I disagree with all the hype surrounding the “importance” of employee engagement, I do agree that it’s a vital ingredient for high-performing teams.

CEOs and company leaders are giving orders to “build employee engagement” in an effort to increase sales and profitability.

The question managers (ie: the people responsible for making that a reality) have is: HOW do we get more productive, engaged employees?

You increase productivity and employee engagement when you have good supervisors.  Productivity and engagement go hand-in-hand, and neither happen with a crappy supervisor. So what we need to do is put people in supervisory roles that have the aptitude to actually get the job done.  Here’s some criteria that define the characteristics of a supervisor that can manage high-performing teams.

Credit to Wally Bock — This is an excerpt from his article, “Not Enough Employee Engagement? Blame Your Boss“.

Does he or she like helping other people succeed? A supervisor’s job is to help the team and its members succeed.

Has he or she demonstrated a willingness to talk to others about employee engagement and performance? This is a key part of any supervisor’s job. We can give someone the tools to do it better, but we can’t make them willing to do it.

Has he or she demonstrated the willingness to make decisions and take responsibility for results? How many supervisors have you seen who simply don’t decide? They buck the issue up the chain. Or they decide not to decide. Or they dump the problem back in a team member’s lap, then walk away with their hands in the air.

We need to give them training in supervisory skills. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, less than 10 percent of training budgets are spent on first line supervisors. Most of that is spend on how to fill out forms and classes on prophylactic HR. That’s not good enough.

New supervisors need some training in basic role identification. They need skills training in communication and confrontation skills. And they need help understanding their transition.

We need to support them in their work. Support means more training. The transition period, which takes 12 to 18 months, is the time when lots of small training sessions are needed. New supervisors also need to identify role models and mentors and learn self-critique skills.

After that, some form of peer support is vital. That can be a formal program in a large company or a joint program among smaller companies. In many cases, mentors and coaches are part of the mix.

We need to help them develop. One of the great things about supervision is that there’s always something more to learn. We need to help bosses create development plans and then follow them. We need to provide resources and point them to more resources.

The best way to leverage employee engagement is to have an engaged boss. There are “great places to work” with “pockets of awfulness.” There are horrid slave ships with beacons of excellence.

~Kristin

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Why Engagement May be the Best Management Voodoo Ever

September 3, 2009 1 comment

Read this article at: Three Star Leadership Blog by Wally Bock

I couldn’t have written a better article about why “employee engagement” is one step shy of being BS. Please, please read this article from Wally Bock!

As with any management fad, there are specks of truth behind the proceeds from speaking engagements, books, “tools”, and travel expenses… But the stock that companies (ie: those in leadership roles) put into “employee engagement” programs, and the way they use “disengagement” as an excuse for dwindling productivity and profits is a simply evidence that those in the top-ranking positions don’t know how to lead an engaged workforce.

My standpoint: if you have to talk about improving engagement, plan entire programs around it, brag about how your “improving” it, and then rely on it to be a key contributor to improved profits… you’re not really doing it.  Those that are don’t have to talk about it, brag about it, or cross their fingers in hope that profits improve from a program that they can’t even really measure.

Bock says in this article: “In Jacobellis v Ohio, Justice Stewart wrote that ‘hard-core pornography’ was hard to define. But, he said: ‘I know it when I see it.’ Engagement is like that.”

Whew! OK, I’m stepping down from my soapbox now. Do you have thoughts on this??

~Kristin

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Categories: employee engagement

All Things Workplace: Four Ways to Help People Learn

August 12, 2009 2 comments

Thanks for catching that error, Joe! We couldn’t do this without you!

Acknowledgement_of_AwesomenessWondering how you can motivate and engage your team, despite a lack of time and a dwindling budget? Showing appreciation is the #1 way to improve morale and drive results — and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

In the United States, The Gallup Organization has found disengaged employees cost the economy $300 billion a year whereas companies with higher employee engagement yield higher sales, higher productivity and higher retention than companies with low employee engagement (Baudville Day-to-Day Recognition White Paper).High Employee Engagement

Work days now are more jam-packed and go by faster than ever before; employees have more work, more pressure and less time.  So unfortunately, recognition often falls by the wayside.  Infrequent recognition won’t reinforce the behaviors you see occurring on a daily basis, and it’s hard to maintain momentum when your boss hasn’t told you that you’re on the right track, doing a great job, or provided you a needed boost.

Day-to-day recognition is defined as the genuine everyday expressions of appreciation given to reinforce and reward positive behaviors.

TheDimensionsOfRecognition

Today, recognition is more than just a pat on the back. It’s a means of giving feedback to employees about the job they’re doing.   In a recent Watson Wyatt survey, 66% of respondents said appreciation was a “very significant” motivator in the workplace.  All it takes is a small hand written note or a token of appreciation.

Recognition_Is_Motivation

Here’s some “on the cheap” ways to tell your employees you’ve noticed how awesome they are:

  • A hand-written note of “thanks”
  • Post that thank you note on the employee’s door
  • Create a Hall of Fame wall with photos of all your employees
  • Make a photo collage about a successful project that shows the people that worked on it, its stage of development and its completion and presentation
  • Plan a surprise picnic
  • Sponsor a “Super Hero” party (everyone wears a superhero costume) at the end of an assignment, for a job well done
  • Answer your assistant’s telephone for a day
  • Hold informal retreats to foster communication and set goals
  • Encourage and recognize staff who pursue continuing education
  • Swap a task with an employee for a day – his/her choice
  • Establish a “Behind the Scenes” award specifically for those whose actions are not usually in the limelight
  • Design a “Stress Support Kit” that included aspirin, a comedy cassette, wind up toys and a stress ball – or design your own
  • Present “State of the Department” reports periodically to your employees acknowledging the work and contributions of individuals and teams
  • If your team is under pressure, bring a bag of marbles to work and take a break to have a contest – a sure stress reliever
  • Serve ice cream sundaes to all of your employees at the end of a project
  • Have staff vote for top manager, supervisor, employee and rookie of the year
  • Give a shiny new penny for every helpful thought that is shared with the team
  • Send a letter to all team members at the conclusion of a project, thanking them for their participation
  • Give employees tokens of thanks from various recognition vendors, such as Baudville, Gifts for Professionals, Motivators, and Despair, Inc.

And many, many more!!  Give me a buzz if you want help creating a recognition program for your team, or if you just need some good ideas for getting your folks re-energized!

~Kristin

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All Things Workplace: Managers Guide Passion

How To: Be the Manager Who Knows How to Develop and Engage Your Team