AVOID THE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT TRAP


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Engaged employees work harder, produce more, lead happier and more fulfilled lives, and create better societies. They thrive at work, at home, and in life. Lucky for your employees, you’re sophisticated enough to grasp this, and evolved enough to want to create it for them.

Actually, that may not be so lucky for them, or for you. Your perspective on employee engagement creates a trap, and it’s one into which many of your fellow illuminati are falling. Ironically, it’s caused primarily by your increased attention to engagement relative to your less evolved peers.

Those lesser managers just don’t care if their employees are engaged or not. Some of them don’t even know it! They stumble through their management careers under the misconception that if the employees aren’t happy, it’s the employees’ problem. Employees can quit if they want to, and be replaced. The unenlightened have no grasp of the hard and soft costs of disengagement.

They’re wrong, of course, and that’s how the trap is set: If what they’re doing is wrong, the opposite of what they’re doing must be right. So if not knowing or caring whether your employees are engaged is wrong, then taking full responsibility for your employees’ engagement must be right.

They stumble through their management careers under the misconception that if the employees aren’t happy, it’s the employees’ problem. 

And so, in proper highly-evolved form, you take ownership. You ask employees, in person and via survey, whether they’re engaged and joyful at work. On its face, it’s a reasonable line of questioning: “How well are we doing at keeping you engaged, and how can we do better?”

The trap slams shut. You’ve just notified you’re employees that it’s your job to keep them happy. They respond with a list of demands. They can’t be happy until they’re given higher salary, greater responsibility, a more impressive title, a view, and a bean bag chair. But there are only so many raises to go around, so many projects to do and titles to have, and so many square feet in which to pile the bean bags. So you find yourself negotiating: Give Penny the promotion, Tammy the Title, and William the window. And have HR announce that bean bags pose a trip hazard.

Suddenly, nobody’s happy. You’ve failed at employee engagement, because you can’t give them what they want.

But where did it all go wrong? Was it overly demanding employees, scarce salary budgets, or draconian job title guidelines?

The trap slams shut. You’ve just notified you’re employees that it’s your job to keep them happy.

Sorry, but it was you. No matter how well-meaning you are, “I’ll make you happy” is a recipe for disaster, at work and in teen romance. When you try to take responsibility for another person’s happiness, you create a dysfunctional, dependent relationship.

Avoid the trap. Attend to engagement without promising happiness. Build an environment that allows people to grow without putting yourself in the role of Santa Claus. Tell employees it’s up to them to find their own engagement, and up to you to encourage and support them in doing so. Be honest about what needs to get done for your team to succeed, and the fact that it won’t all be fun. And teach employees to troubleshoot their own engagement issues. Help them to work toward what they most enjoy even as they perform their jobs well today.

As your employees improve at their current jobs, they’ll have more options and directions in which to grow. As they learn to troubleshoot engagement problems and recognize what they enjoy, they’ll move into work that engages them at a higher level. Over time, the entire system will evolve toward greater employee engagement, and attract even more talent. In the process, it will thrive.

No matter how well-meaning you are, “I’ll make you happy” is a recipe for disaster, at work and in teen romance.

That’s engagement done right. It’s exciting, it’s positive, it attracts and retains great employees, and it builds community through productivity. And, it’s better than a giant pile of bean bag chairs.

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Curated by Trevor Lee

http://www.ep-i.net

@trevorblee

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What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)


Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that people do not always learn from experience, that expertise does not help people root out false information, and that seeing ourselves as highly experienced can keep us from doing our homework, seeking disconfirming evidence, and questioning our assumptions. And just as experience can lead to a false sense of confidence about our performance, it can also make us overconfident about our level of self-knowledge.

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Curated by Trevor Lee

http://www.ep-i.net

@trevorblee

When You Really Need a Favour, Ask in Person


When you want to ask your colleagues for a favour to review your draft presentation, lend some resources to an important project, or even to support you in your local charity run — it feels most efficient to send a group email.

But a new study finds that people tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness over text and email and underestimate how effective face-to-face requests are.

Asking someone in person is far more likely to be successful.

Remember that most people have an inbox full of requests from people. You don’t want your favour to get lost in that heap. Sure, going to talk to someone may be less convenient and more uncomfortable, but if you really need someone to help you out, stop by their desk or schedule a meeting.

Doing so demonstrates the importance of the task and cuts through the digital clutter.

Adapted from “A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful than an Email,” by Vanessa K. Bohns

 

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Curated by Trevor Lee

https://www.linkedin.com/in/trevorblee

http://www.ep-i.net

@trevorblee

Before Your Next Job Interview, Rehearse in Character


Be yourself” is horrible advice for someone going on a job interview.

That’s because you are literally auditioning for a new role. Take the time to craft your “job interview character” by making a list of the qualities a successful candidate should convey. And then rehearse. For example, if you tend to be shy, expand your range of expression (and what you’re comfortable doing) by practicing what might feel like an exaggerated performance, using hand gestures and passion. And try to reframe your perspective. Instead of performing as a person who is trying really hard to get the job, perform as someone who wants to have a great conversation with the interviewer.

Ask open-ended questions and be prepared to tell stories.

Adapted from “To Ace Your Job Interview, Get into Character and Rehearse,” by Cathy Salit

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Curated by Trevor Lee

https://www.linkedin.com/in/trevorblee

http://www.ep-i.net

@trevorblee

Be More Loyal to Your Mentee


All too often, mentoring can become just another task on your to-do list.

But mentoring requires developing a genuine rapport. Studies show that even the best-designed mentoring programs are no substitute for an authentic, collegial relationship between mentor and mentee. You need a baseline chemistry with your mentee, and you must have their best interests at heart — even if those interests aren’t the same as the company’s.

Of course, it would be great if your mentee wanted to sustain a long career at your organization, but it’s more important to help them discover their strengths and passions and the best place to apply both. When counseling your mentee on career decisions, encourage them to find their calling whether it’s at your company or somewhere else.

This is the best way to inspire commitment.

Adapted from “What the Best Mentors Do,” by Anthony K. Tjan

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Curated by Trevor Lee

http://www.ep-i.net

@trevorblee

Leadership Presence


Increasing your Leadership Presence involves complex, interrelated factors.

  1. Identify and clarify your vision of the future, not only for yourself but for those you lead, or want to lead. Document your vision (in writing!) and then communicate it in a way that inspires people to follow it.

  2. Consider how you appear to others. Start with your appearance, but give more than a passing glance at your inner self and soul (or whatever you call that intangible part of you that projects your values.) Do something to improve at least one of the above, every day.

  3. Get some practice in leaving decisions to other people, especially to those who really want to contribute in the way that decision-making requires. (This sounds easier than it is. People who want to lead generally like to be in control.)

Leadership Presence is a path, not a destination.

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Curated by Trevor Lee
tblee@ep-i.net
http://www.ep-i.net
@trevorblee

 

Motivate Your Team by Connecting Their Work to What Matters


All managers need to motivate their employees, but many struggle to get it right.

Bosses looking to deliver an effective pep talk should explain why the work they are asking people to do is important.

How do the employees’ tasks connect to the organization’s purpose? Point out ways your team is making a real difference for customers, the community, or each other.

The CEO of a pharmaceutical startup, for example, might say, “I know everyone here wants to help save lives from heart disease. That’s what our work is all about.”

Or you can connect your employees’ responsibilities to their personal aspirations. A fast-food restaurant manager could tell teenage workers, “One of our company goals is to provide good, stable jobs so that you have money to help your families and save for college.”

Research shows that connecting work to meaning is the toughest part of a pep talk to deliver, but getting it right is essential to motivating your team.

Adapted from “The Science of Pep Talks,” by Daniel McGinn

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Curated by Trevor Lee

http://www.ep-i.net

@trevorblee