Corporations spend a lot of energy on employee engagement as if there is some magic formula of training, open door policies, and standardized performance evaluations that if the leader does all of them in perfect harmony they’ll have a symphony of engagement.
It’s not the leader’s job to engage workers. It’s the workers’ job to come to work ready to do their best. The problem is employees may not know how to be their best or what ‘best’ looks like. It’s the leader’s job to issue the call to greatness and help employees be great.
To do this a leader has to help employees bypass their ego and the emotional churn of needing to be right and start focusing on facts not assumptions.
Free lunch, a pool table in the break room and flex hours are not the answer to poor engagement. Setting clear goals is a start but can backfire and lead to entitlement without accountability. “What would great look...
Gallup reports that only 33% of the 100 million people in the American workforce are engaged at work, loving their jobs and their organization. Conversely 16% of the workforce is actively disengaged, miserable and poisoning their cultures. The remaining 51% are not engaged – they just show up. This means that 67% of your workforce is disengaged.
Traditional leadership styles, benefits packages and training initiatives clearly are not working. The old command-and-control style of leadership is not only ineffective but not respected by millennials who represent the largest sector in the workforce today. Productive and engaged work cultures are switching from power struggles to coaching conversations. They realize purpose and flexibility trump paychecks and perks. They take less stock in annual employee engagement surveys and have monthly check-in coaching conversations for development. And they make sure their employees know the company is interested in their development,...
At work sometimes we think the solution is to add more work onto what already needs to be done when often the most productive choice is to reengineer the work to eliminate useless tasks and combine others into streamlined processes. This requires a big step back to see the entire picture and not just the finite goal at hand - cause and effect.
Sometimes we need to start over. That isn’t failure. It’s setting ego aside for innovation.
In my two-decade career as a hospital executive I have watched new regulations bury front line workers as management teams tack on new regulations as one more thing to be done at the bedside by the nurse or professional. When my father was in a hospital across town it made me sad to see the nurses lined up at computers in the nurses’ station when I knew they would rather have been at the bedside.
I’ve also seen wise leaders reinvent processes so there aren’t more forms to fill out but one form...
I took this photo of a young man in Rio de Janeiro who spent the day canvasing the beach and garbage bins for empty soda cans to turn in for money. There are no entitlement programs in Brazil and while some choose to thieve on the beach (we saw them being arrested) this leader chose to contribute to his own worth and that of society.
Those of you who manage people understand the importance of engagement. Here are some sage words from Seth Godin on the tug of war between what comes first - passion or work.
'Work before passion
“Offer me something I’m passionate about and I’ll show up with all of my energy, effort and care.”
That’s a great way to hide.
Because nothing is good enough to earn your passion before you do it. Perhaps, in concept, it’s worthy, but as soon as you closely examine the details and the pitfalls, it’s easy to decide it’s better to wait for a better offer.
What about considering the opposite?
“Offer me a chance...
We’ve all been in meetings where we repeatedly check our watches. Our time is valuable. A well-run meeting makes people feel they are a part of progress – not process. Lead progress by first establishing a safe and productive environment with meeting ground rules. Email the rules to participants before the meeting. Post them in the room. People will come prepared to contribute to something that matters not observe, yawn and hope they don’t walk away with more on their to-do list.
Eight Killer Meeting Ground Rules
1.) The purpose of the meeting will be evident in the invite and placed where participants can see it. All relevant information is invited, and no other issues will be discussed.
2.) Everyone has a chance to speak without interruption.
3.) After everyone has spoken all will get to share final thoughts.
4.) No idea is a bad idea. All ideas and opinions will be respected.
5.) Ideas and opinions are encouraged to survive...
Recently I was not feeling well and missed an event where I had hoped to extend my deepest appreciation to several hundred volunteers at St. Margaret Hospital. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t be there to thank these outstanding stewards of our patients who struggle with the biggest challenges of their lives. The next day I received this note from the two directors of the event - simply run off on their printer that said:
Thinking of You -
Hope you’re feeling much better
and hope you’re remembering, too
The many warm thoughts and good wishes
that always are right there with you.
If you think personal notes (talking hard copy here and not email) are a thing of the past you are wrong. This totally captured my attention, warmed my heart, made me smile and immediately inspired me to reach out and thank them.
I keep a drawer full of informal note cards for this very thing - from personalized Crane to Kate Spade to convenience store birthday cards. And I...
Feedback is crucial to performance improvement because it enables us to look at situations and ourselves from a third-party perspective. It unlocks self-reflection and growth, and opens the door to opportunity. “You are doing a great job” or “You have to do better,” does not give the employee the needed tools to improve or the intrinsic fulfillment to make him want to stay with the company and grow.
Effective feedback has three mindful components. It is 1) Strategic, 2) Developmental and 3) Aligned with the values of the organization. These require us to be aware of our restrictive biases.
Strategic Feedback: The employee can most benefit from feedback that answers this question: “What should this employee do more or less of to be maximally effective?” If you aren’t sure of the answer, ask the employee. Once you have the answer, you can work with her to clear distractions from her workload and position her to do the most meaningful and...
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