top of page

Search Results

32 items found for ""

  • Rules Of Engagement

    Employee Engagement is a much talked about phrase. But what really works? What causes people to become "engaged" in a cause or mission? What creates an internal drive to participate and be involved? What is engagement all about? Engagement simply refers to the process in which an ongoing network of exchanges between people changes their behavior. These exchange patterns, when repeated in an environment where information, ideas and views are being exchanged across the group drive engagement. Employee engagement goes beyond activities, games, and events. It actually drives performance. Research shows that engaged employees are able to look at the whole of the company and understand their purpose, where they fit in, and how their contribution to the work matters. This leads to better individual decision-making. Organizations with an engaged workforce outperform the competition. ‍ There are 3 key things to remember about successful engagement: ‍ 1. Engagement Requires Interaction. I do not mean interaction in just a one-to-one environment (like a boss to an employee) but in one-to-many exchanges in a networked process. It works best when the exchanges are multi-directional (across the entire team - who are all linked in a common mission or purpose). This continuous exchange of information, ideas and views creates sustained behavior change. ‍ 2. Engagement Requires Cooperation. Everyone must feel a sense of "belonging" to the group. and that their individual contribution actually matters to the overall outcome. So often, we fail to realize this as leaders - and we force our team to see their work as merely a "to-do" list rather than making a real contribution. ‍ 3. Engagement Requires Building Trust. Never forget that an expectation of future fair and cooperative exchanges is built on a history of fairness. We must make the investment first in extending support to others long before we should expect anything in return. It's called investing our "social capital." ‍ If you're looking to really understand and build engagement, begin by addressing these core questions. If you answer "no" to any of these key questions, it is likely that overall engagement is far less than optimal. Have you built a culture that motivates, empowers, challenges and respects the employees (your shared values)? Have you really framed your company's big "why" - your larger purpose than just making money (your mission)? Do employees understand where the organization is going (your vision)? Have you clearly drawn a picture of your organization so that everyone understand how their contribution matters? Are you investing in your employee's personal and professional growth? ‍ Employee Engagement Is: ‍ Getting up in the morning thinking, “I’m excited about going to work today." Understanding one’s role in an organization and where it fits in the organization’s purpose. Being given a voice in the company's journey and having those views considered as decisions are made. Receiving regular and constructive feedback. Being supported in developing new professional skills. Being recognized for achievement. Feeling pride in our individual contribution. Being a great advocate of the company to users and customers. Going the extra mile to finish a piece of work. Drawing on the team's ideas to improve products and services.

  • The Antidote To Quiet Quitting: Investing In The Team

    The term “quiet quitting” has become a growing trend in today's workplace. It refers to employees who are physically present at work but are not fully engaged, and ultimately end up leaving the organization without any formal notice or warning. This phenomenon is a sign of the importance of employee engagement in the workplace. Engaged employees are more likely to stay with the organization, provide discretionary effort, and contribute to the success of the company. In this article, we will explore the importance of employee engagement in retention and discretionary effort, the phenomenon of quiet quitting, and the benefits of having an engaging, learning environment. We will also suggest ways employers can promote engagement and learning environments. ‍ EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND RETENTION ‍ Employee engagement is the level of commitment and enthusiasm that an employee has towards their work, their colleagues, and their organization. Engaged employees are more productive, satisfied with their jobs, and less likely to leave their employer. In contrast, disengaged employees are less productive, unhappy with their jobs, and more likely to quit. A study conducted by Gallup found that only 36% of employees in the United States are engaged at work, while 14% are actively disengaged. Retention is the ability of an organization to keep its employees. Retention is an important factor for organizations because it helps to maintain a stable workforce, reduces the cost of turnover, and ensures that the organization has the necessary skills and experience to achieve its goals.Engaged employees are more likely to stay with the organization, and as a result, improve retention rates. A study conducted by Towers Watson found that companies with high levels of engagement had a 44% higher retention rate than companies with low levels of engagement. ‍ DISCRETIONARY EFFORT AND EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT ‍ Discretionary effort refers to the additional effort that employees put into their work beyond what is expected of them. Discretionary effort can lead to increased productivity, improved quality, and a better customer experience. Engaged employees are more likely to provide discretionary effort because they are committed to the success of the organization. Research shows that employees who are engaged at work are more likely to provide discretionary effort. A study conducted by the CorporateLeadership Council found that engaged employees were 2.5 times more likely to stay late at work if something needed to be done and 1.5 times more likely to help a coworker with a task. ‍ THE BENEFITS OF AN ENGAGING, LEARNING ENVIRONMENT ‍ An engaging, learning environment is one in which employees are motivated to learn, grow, and develop their skills. Such an environment can lead to increased engagement, retention, and discretionary effort. There are several benefits of an engaging, learning environment, including: 1. Improved employee satisfaction: When employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to grow and develop, they are more likely to be committed to their work and their employer. This can lead to improved morale and a more positive workplace culture. 2. Increased productivity: Engaged employees tend to be more productive than disengaged ones. When employees feel motivated and invested in their work, they are more likely to perform at a higher level. Furthermore, employees who are continually learning and developing new skills can bring those skills to their work and contribute to the overall success of the organization. 3. Enhanced creativity and innovation: A learning environment encourages employees to think creatively and come up with new ideas that can enhance customer satisfaction, improve the business model, and enhance profitability. 4. Better employee retention: businesses that offer engaging and learning work environments tend to have better retention rates. When employees feelvalued and have opportunities to grow and develop, they are less likely to leave their jobs for other opportunities. ‍SUMMARY: ‍ Creating an engaging and learning work environment is essential for businesses that want to attract and retain top talent, particularly younger workers who are seeking mentorship and growth opportunities. To foster a culture of growth and development, businesses need to create an environment where employees feel supported, valued, empowered to learn, and can actively engage in problem solving and growth opportunities. By investing in their employees' growth and development, businesses can create a culture that becomes a magnet to attract and retain top talent. It’s not hard to “stand out” as an employer if you follow this simple formula – invest in helping your team become their best self.

  • Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?

    As leaders, we have all been asked the question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” In each case, the expected answer is a job title, some type of work experience, a career achievement, or even leading a company. Now consider the rapidly changing work market - and you can see that a linear eduction - and a linear career track - one that is focused on developing the skills to succeed in a single expertise - is a relic of the industrial era. Here are five thoughts on how you can really prepare yourself as a leader for the next 5 years - for your leadership role in 2024: ‍ 1. Learn How To Use Information. While the process of learning is currently structured around the age of the learner, the reality is that most everyone has access to almost any information at any time. Scarcity drives value in today’s market. It’s not information that’s scarce. It’s people who know how to use information for problem solving. ‍ 2. Add Value. As organizations become flatter - the traditional vertical promotions that equated to career success become less relevant and less attainable. The differentiator is no longer seniority - but our skill at adding value. Especially when we can be a “value add” to the work of others. ‍ 3. Become a Learn-It-All. Learning agility and a healthy curiosity are the key skills for success. If there’s one thing anyone can benefit from in life, it’s always thinking of yourself as a student. It’s okay if you don’t know something as long as you’re willing to learn it. Stay current. Study trends. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. You cannot afford to leave your knowledge accumulation to chance or to your current employer. Focus on proactive learning. Seek new experiences, new insights, and new business models. ‍ 4. See Leadership as a Contact Sport. Leadership does not reside in a single person, job title or role. Learning is a collective process with a group of people. Leadership is a contact sport - situational at best - and successful learners learn from each other. It’s even better if you develop a bit of emotional intelligence along the way - building your interpersonal and team building skills. You can’t be a leader if you only hang out in your office, you’re constantly challenging others’ views, or you spend your time passing out deadlines for others with no real active engagement with the team. ‍ 5. Transform Your Workspace into a Destination. Our workplace should transform from the mindset of “where work gets done” to a destination for “how work gets done” - a place we go to problem solve with others, to delight our customers, to build our relationships. It should be a space where others feel welcome to challenge, to debate, to visually examine possibilities. The new way of working is not just about bringing down the walls—it’s about bringing down the old-school style of hierarchical, top-down management. As we reconfigure the space within the four walls we work in, to truly change the traditional workplace model, we need to equally reconfigure the way we think about letting all team members be heard. ‍ The real answer to “What are your going to be doing in five years is this… Nothing you can imagine right now. The changing market, the rapid advancement in technology and the global economy will chew up all your best plans. You have no idea what you'll be doing in five years. But if you focus on these principles, You’ll be doing something really cool as a leader - and really meaningful. And it’s likely something you can’t possibly image right now.

  • Balancing Policy and People as You Scale Your Business

    During a workshop a few months ago, Michael Burcham said: “Every time you make a policy for something that is common sense, you take a little piece of everybody’s brain.” I chuckled at the candor (and the image), but have been digesting it ever since. It seems to me that policy, best used, establishes a safety net for the organization (or a community of people of any sort). It sort of says: if our people or our actions fall below this basic level, or beyond this broad range of acceptable behavior, then there will be consequences. If there are uncertainties for the individual member where he needs guidance from the organization, there it is. In these cases, policy is intended to be behind-the-scenes and not an explicit part of everyday interactions (except for the HR directors and the like who manage them for the organization). Policy should provide a baseline, or set of parameters, that most successful employees don’t spend much time hovering around. But, often as companies scale and try to codify their work, instead of providing broad parameters, policy is perceived to define the accepted level of execution. It moves from covering the organization for the worst-case scenario to codifying expectations of daily performance. So, people at a decisive moment defer to policy rather than their common sense. And, this, according to Burcham, is where we lose a piece of our brain, and (according to me) our soul. So, we must decide if we want to scale policy-driven organizations or people-driven organizations (or likely an effective balance of both). The former leverages the tools of the organization, the latter the tools and creativity of all of its members. The former slows and systematizes organizational function, the latter helps it remain nimble and open to new inputs. Either of them in the extreme exposes the organization to a different set of threats. Which brings me to another quote from Burcham that day: “Your people should grow at a faster rate than your company.” So, there’s the real challenge! When you look at your company or your organization, are the people who make it up growing faster than the entity as a whole? Are they pushing you for new opportunities for personal growth? Can they execute without micromanagement? Do they surprise you with their problem-solving? Are they generating innovation and developing ideas to drive you forward? Or, are they waiting on direction? Acting only if policy is there to guide them? If it’s the latter, you’re probably scaling policy more than people and “taking a little piece of everybody’s brain” as you do it.

  • Collaboration Requires Intentionality Not Just Desire

    Collaboration is a word we say and everyone seems to nod in agreement. Very rarely does someone suggest that it’s a bad idea to collaborate. But, we also don’t typically invest in collaboration strategically and meaningfully to drive business outcomes. We leave it up to particular teams or leaders and their styles or micro-cultures. Sometimes, we just throw a piece of technology like Slack or Teams at it and say “Yep! We collaborate!” Here are the problems with these approaches: 1. Collaboration doesn’t work if one team does it and another doesn’t, or one leader collaborates but not another. This passive approach ultimately prevents collaboration among those teams and leaders. It says collaboration is isolated which runs counter to the concept. 2. If your organization doesn’t cultivate and support collaboration in how you work without technology, then technology isn’t going to cultivate it for you. You are just going to digitize your lack of collaboration and likely ramp up the noise and dysfunction of it in the process. Collaboration succeeds where it is understood, promoted, and developed as a value and an expectation. It’s not an agenda item in a meeting. It’s not a discrete activity. It’s not a new technology. Collaboration is a lot less something you do, and a lot more how you are with others and how that shapes the way you work with them (or not) toward common goals. For it to be meaningful and scalable in a work setting, collaboration needs to be: STRATEGIC – It should be clear at all levels of your organization (at least where collaboration is key to performance) that collaboration is a critical strategy to achieve outcomes. It can’t be “nice-when-we-have-time.” If it’s strategic, it’s fundamental. LEVERAGED – Assuming it is, in fact, strategic, collaboration must be part of the design of your organizational processes. It must be operationalized effectively such that it is part of everyday workflow, job expectations, and even evaluation measures. MODELED – Like anything, if the people “at the top” don’t “practice what they preach” then it’s hard to get strong buy-in from everyone else. Leadership must be intentional and overt in exposing when and how it leads through collaboration. CELEBRATED – We celebrate each other in our work in both subtle and overt ways: the passing comment, the simple nod of a head, or a formal award. Each represents a celebration that promotes and reinforces organizational values. Collaboration needs to be celebrated in many ways and at all levels. INVESTED IN – What we invest in shows what we value. What we implement well shows our commitment to our values. We can’t decide collaboration is important and never put the tools behind it. But, we also can’t just throw technology at it and proclaim “now we collaborate!”

  • Great Leaders Don’t Just Do More - They Learn More, and Teach More

    We live in a culture of more-more-more. As a result, we often think we have to do more to be more, that our personal and professional development amount to an accumulation of experiences. The passive presumption, then, is that that experiences naturally bear the fruits of knowledge, or better yet, wisdom. But, busyness breeds neither knowledge nor wisdom, and “activity without learning is merely a happening” (Myles Horton). Further, busyness can be isolating – even as we are working with others and serving on boards and are always around people, our relationships can become increasingly shallow. We are doing more and relating less. So, if you are looking to get more meaning out of what you do, here is my first challenge: stop focusing on how much you do, and try and figure out how much you’ve learned. Here is my second: find ways to share what you have learned so that what you do matters to the world. Here are a few ways that I invest in figuring out what I have learned from my experiences, what I am continuing to learn from them, and how I can share some of that with others: Set up interesting conversations with smart people who ask really good questions. I have had the extraordinary privilege of working with some brilliant minds and some deeply committed learners. I have learned more about myself and my work in coffee shops than in school or anywhere else. When I share my thoughts with others, I am forced to hear them and understand them differently. When I welcome their questions, challenges, and perspectives, I continue to evolve my learning from experiences – even those I may have had many years prior. This is the gift of critical friendship. Write or draw or otherwise externalize your thinking. The process of writing, whether a private journal, a blog, or even a book is a great way of figuring out what you have learned, how you express it, and what questions you are still struggling with. There is something about the deliberate process of getting words out of your mind and onto paper or a screen or wherever that presents new opportunities for analysis. If writing isn’t your thing, consider a sketchpad to doodle and draw visual expressions of your thinking. The point is to get it out of your head and into a format you can observe more critically. Sign up to teach something to somebody in a structured way. I believe at our best we are all teachers and learners and have the opportunity to be so in every interaction. But, there is something about the deliberate process of signing up to do a workshop on a topic, lead a lunch-and-learn, be a guest speaker or a guest writer that forces some clarity of thought – especially as we consider how others will receive our message. These sorts of activities force us not only to expose (to ourselves) what we think we have learned but also to package that to share with others – which, for me, is the ultimate point of learning. This process culminates then in the reflections and questions of an audience, which loops us back to the process and possibility of #1. We can’t always do more, and doing more isn’t always a good idea. In fact, the cult of doing more often obscures the process of learning, which of course, limits the possibility of teaching. Alternately, if we would all focus our energies on learning and then teaching from what we do, we could all do a lot more with our lives.

  • 5 Questions You Should Ask About Your Company’s Internal Communication

    1. What do you need your people to know? This is about business strategy. For you to lead a safe, productive, successful business, what do your people need to know from you, or about the business more generally? What information is going to help align and engage people at all levels with the vision and direction of your company? What will make the work environment physically and emotionally safer and deliver happier customers and clients? Being thoughtful about what your people need to know to do their jobs well is foundational to your communication strategy. 2. What do your people want to know? Knowing what information your people want to know and delivering it is crucial to their engagement. It’s about professional respect, and starts with listening to them. Do your people care about hearing from the CEO or CMO? What messages are most meaningful from the top? Do they want updates on policy changes or other issues impacting your market? Do they care about overall performance of the company? Do they want to feel a part of something bigger? (Answer: yes) Are they looking for personal and professional growth opportunities? Strategic internal communication has to be two-way and engage the wants and needs of both the company and its people. 3. What do your people want/need you to know? To reiterate, communication is two-way, not just in the nature and value of the content exchanged but also in who gets to initiate it. It’s about listening as much as it is about talking, posting, sending, and faxing. So, at your company, who gets to share information? Request information? Seek/give feedback? Report on or provide updates on successes? Challenges? Who listens? Your people need avenues to communicate with company leadership, to know they have been heard, and to know it matters. If they are going to engage in delivering the vision and mission of your company, then they have to have a sense of ownership in leading it. 4. What are you willing to change? Poor communication leads to low engagement. Low engagement creates communication problems. It’s a vicious circle. So, something has to change. What is it? What are you willing to stop that you know isn’t working? What are you wasting time, energy, FTEs and money on? What workflows need to be evaluated? What roles and expectations must be clarified? What roles and expectations must change? Communication both creates and is a function of staffing and workflow models. So, if you want to change communication, then you must be willing to change these. Another new channel, new FTE, or new piece of technology on top of the same old practices simply won’t do it. 5. Why does it matter? If you are going to invest in change and expend your leadership capital to do so, you need a plan to articulate and promote “why” and then capture and report on the results. Can you reduce the volume of emails? Can you eliminate technologies or practices you know aren’t working anyway? Can you reduce team stress or frustration? Can you create new feedback channels? Can you increase the sense of connection and engagement among your people? Communication impacts everything you do. So, pick short-term metrics that you value and strategically align your communication change efforts to improve them. In the mid and long terms, you can then track lagging metrics like reduced turnover, increased engagement, higher productivity, increased safety and the like.

  • To Learn Leadership, You Have to Get a Little Messy

    As an artist, when you learn to paint with oil paint, for example, you have to learn the characteristics of the paint, how to thin it, how to thicken it, how to build a surface, how to mix color, how to manage your brushes and the nuances of the surface of a canvas or board or whatever you are painting on. Knowing these foundations of the medium is what enables you to use the medium for your unique expression. Things will likely be messy, muddled, and frustrating at first, but putting in the time with the mess is the only way to become an artist. Leadership is the same. You have to learn the characteristics of leadership, how to communicate, how to empathize, how to listen, how to delegate, how to prioritize, how to know when to step up and when to step back to empower others. Knowing these foundations to leadership is what enables you to find your unique version of it. Things will likely be messy, muddled, and frustrating at first, but putting in the time with the mess is the only way to become a leader. In art or leadership, there is no prescription for the outcome, there is only knowledge and application of the medium and investment in the process. So, artist, leader, or both, you have to be willing to get a little messy in your practice if you are going to find your voice.

bottom of page