AVOID THE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT TRAP


EMPLOYEE ENG

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.

ENGAGEMENT 1

Curated by Trevor Lee

http://www.ep-i.net

@trevorblee

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Ask Your Employees More Questions


As you move up in an organization, people increasingly look to you for answers.

But the best leaders don’t provide all of the solutions — they inspire curiosity, creativity, and deeper thinking in their employees. And that starts with asking the right questions.

Encourage your employees to slow down and explain what they’re proposing in more detail by saying something simple and to-the-point, like “Wait, what?” You could also use phrases like “I wonder why…” to encourage curiosity. And then follow up with “I wonder if things could be done differently.”

Another question to try: “How can I help?” – this question forces your colleague to define the problem, which is the first step toward owning and solving it.

Adapted from “5 Questions Leaders Should Be Asking All the Time,” by James E. Ryan

 

q1

Curated by Trevor Lee

http://www.ep-i.net

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

@trevorblee

Make Gender Balance a Smart Strategic Goal


If you are working on launching or accelerating a push for more gender balance in your company, you need to focus on the opportunity – not the problem – to engage others. Approach the conversation by first laying out a set of future objectives, targets, and milestones. Then describe how gender balance is a key lever to help you reach those goals.

It helps to consider a two key questions:

1) Are you using language that accuses or language that invites people to build skills and enhance leadership impact?

2) Are you engaging with managers on things they understand are central to both their individual success and the company’s goals? Or are your efforts being perceived as politically correct, tick-the-box exercises?

Remember: the final goal isn’t just about balance. It’s having more engaged employees and more connected customers.

Adapted from “Tackle Bias in Your Company Without Making People Defensive,”
by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox

 

Curated by Trevor Lee

@trevorblee

http://www.ep-i.net

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

To Motivate Your Employees …


It’s not always easy to get the most from your employees.

If you’re struggling to inspire the people on your team, look to your past.

Think about your own experience and what motivated you when you were in the lower levels of a company.

Who was the best boss you ever had?

What did that person do to make you want to perform at your best?

Reflect on what made your boss’s motivational strategies so effective for you.

What specifically did they do to earn your trust and admiration?

Now think about how you can apply those lessons to your own team. Which motivational tools will work for them?

Be fearless in examining your own behavior and curious about how your employees respond to you. Re-purpose your favorite boss’s techniques and make them your own.

Adapted from “Motivating People Starts with Having the Right Attitude,” by Monique Valcour

MOTIVATE 1

Curated by Trevor Lee

@trevorblee

http://www.ep-i.net

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

Three steps to building a better top team.


When your top team fails to function, it will likely paralyze the whole company.

Few teams function as well as they could. But the stakes get higher with senior-executive teams: dysfunctional ones can slow down, derail, or even paralyze a whole company. McKinsey in their work with top teams at more than 100 leading multinational companies, including surveys with 600 senior executives at 30 of them, they identified three crucial priorities for constructing and managing effective top teams. Getting these priorities right can help drive better business outcomes in areas ranging from customer satisfaction to worker productivity and many more as well.

1. Get the right people on the team . . . and the wrong ones off

Determining the membership of a top team is the CEO’s responsibility—and frequently the most powerful lever to shape a team’s performance. Many CEOs regret not employing this lever early enough or thoroughly enough. Still others neglect it entirely, assuming instead that factors such as titles, pay grades, or an executive’s position on the org chart are enough to warrant default membership. Little surprise, then, that more than one-third of the executives they surveyed said their top teams did not have the right people and capabilities.

The key to getting a top team’s composition right is deciding what contributions the team as a whole, and its members as individuals, must make to achieve an organization’s performance aspirations and then making the necessary changes in the team. This sounds straight-forward, but it typically requires conscious attention and courage from the CEO; otherwise, the top team can under-deliver for an extended period of time.

2. Make sure the top team does just the work only it can do

Many top teams struggle to find purpose and focus. Only 38 percent of the executives McKinsey surveyed said their teams focused on work that truly benefited from a top-team perspective. Only 35 percent said their top teams allocated the right amounts of time among the various topics they considered important, such as strategy and people.

3. Address team dynamics* and processes

A final area demanding unrelenting attention from CEOs is effective team dynamics, whose absence is a frequent problem: among the top teams McKinsey studied, members reported that only about 30 percent of their time was spent in “productive collaboration”—a figure that dropped even more when teams dealt with high-stakes topics where members had differing, entrenched interests.

Correcting dysfunctional dynamics requires focused attention and interventions, preferably as soon as an ineffective pattern shows up.

Finally, most teams need to change their support systems or processes to crystalize and embed change.

Each top team is unique, and every CEO will need to address a unique combination of challenges.

Developing a highly effective top team typically requires good diagnostics, followed by a series of workshops and field work to address the dynamics of the team while it attends to hard business issues. The best top teams will begin to take collective responsibility and to develop the ability to maintain and improve their own effectiveness, creating a lasting performance edge.

© McKinsey & Co • Michiel Kruyt, Judy Malan, and Rachel Tuffield

 

*To build strong teams I recommend:

TGI 2

developed by

The Gabriel Institute

website teamability.com

Curated by Trevor Lee

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

@trevorblee

http://www.ep-i.net

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

ARE YOU A ‘WETCO’ LEADER?


By which I mean …

Do you demonstrate and deliver on these five key leadership traits:

 

W = Warmth: Simple human kindness

E = Empathy: The ability to sense what another person is feeling

T = Teamwork: The bias against ‘I can do it all by myself’ toward:

‘Let’s work together to make this happen’.

C = Conscientiousness: Detail orientation, including an ability and            willingness to follow through to completion.

O = Optimism: The ability to bounce back and internalise challenges.

 

And not just leaders. These traits are human qualities and essential to ‘making a difference’ in your workplace and society at large.

 

Trevor Lee

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

http:/ep-i.net

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

@trevorblee

Set Clear Ground Rules for Your Virtual Team


All workplaces need ground rules, but they’re particularly important for remote work.

When a team is spread out among branch offices, coffee shops, and hotel lobbies, people may have wildly different ideas about what’s expected of them.

Make clear what kind of latitude and independence team members can expect, what resources will be available to them, and how much team members will be expected to travel.

If people work in different time zones, it’s critical to set ground rules around working hours, too. Managers should think about these questions:

  • What times of day are team members expected to be available?

  • How will you schedule meetings to accommodate each person?

  • What should people do if they find their responsibilities require them to work overtime or outside their scheduled hours?.

Giving the team this kind of guidance up front will help them work more effectively.

Trevor Lee

tblee@ceo-worldwide.com

http://www.ceo-worldwide.com

@trevorblee