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Seven Root Causes for Poor Employee Engagement

Seven Root Causes for Poor Employee Engagement

Here are seven root causes-factors that cause employees to disengage and leave:

  1. They found the job or workplace to be different than what they had expected when hired.
  2. They were not well matched or challenged in the jobs for which they had been hired, or to which had been assigned or promoted.
  3. They received too little coaching and feedback from their supervisor.
  4. They perceived few prospects for professional growth and advancement.
  5. They felt undervalued or underrecognized, either through lack of informal acknowledgement of their contributions, feeling underpaid, not feeling “in the loop,” not having their input sought, not having the right tools.
  6. Feeling stressed or burned-out due to overwork or life-work imbalance.
  7. Loss of trust and confidence in senior leaders.

These seven causes are not the reasons most employees give in exit interviews. Departing employees typically respond with the answers their leaders prefer to hear-better pay or opportunity. Through such denial, managers never learn what they need to avoid or correct the real causes of disengagement and turnover.

'The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave' by Leigh Branham (ISBN 0814408516) Most managers believe employees leave mainly because of “pull factors”-pay and opportunity. However, Saratoga’s research concludes that 80 percent are motivated to leave because of these seven “push factors.”

Managers and leaders may not want to acknowledge the real reasons employees leave-since all seven are factors they can influence directly.

The good news is first that some turnover is desirable. Second, between the time employees become disengaged and the point when they leave, there is time and opportunity to re-engage them. Third, if we know why employees disengage and leave, then we also know why they stay and engage. Fourth, since only about 12 percent of employees leave mainly because of their pay, the things we need to do to re-engage most employees are relatively inexpensive, requiring mostly the time and attention of direct managers, the support of HR, and the commitment of senior leaders.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

How to Increase Employee Commitment and Engagement

How to Increase Employee Commitment and Engagement If employee allegiance no longer has a metaphysical basis in a culture, people are left with only two values—personal peace and personal affluence—and these values diminish loyalty with their self-absorbed focus. Employees who long only to be left alone to follow better possessions and better experiences have no room for loyal relationships.

To increase commitment, managers focus on employee ownership and retention, either by giving employees equity in the company in hopes that if they own it, they will give more commitment so that their equity will increase in value; or by giving project control in hopes that if the employees own the project, they will give the commitment that is needed for the project’s success. Employee ownership, however, is a deficient substitute for employee loyalty.

Employee Engagement Strategy Examples

Managers who try to encourage loyalty through employee retention soon realize that this too is inadequate to build loyalty. These programs tend to focus on employee self-fulfillment rather than earning and retaining loyalty to the values, purposes and people of the organization.

Our survey indicates that the top five drivers of employee commitment are:

  1. management’s recognition of the importance of personal and family life;
  2. opportunities for personal growth;
  3. satisfying customer needs;
  4. communications about benefits; and
  5. skills keeping pace with job requirements.

These drivers deepen employees’ commitments, but only on condition that some other prospective employer is not providing them more fully or with better pay. Gaining employee commitment by nourishing the need for self-fulfillment is another example of loyalty for personal gain rather than loyalty to the values, purpose and people of the organization.

'The Truth About Employee Engagement' by Patrick Lencioni (ISBN 111923798X) The problem with trying to win loyalty through ownership and retention plans is that these are attempts to buy what must be warranted. Loyalty means to be steadfast in one’s allegiance to a person, cause, or company and to beliefs, practices, and relationships that benefit all involved. A culture that wins loyalty is built by exemplifying high values and right purposes, by assuming constituents to live these high values and right purposes, and by rewarding them when they do and challenging them when they do not.

Four Implications for Employee Loyalty

Managers and employees who take sincerely the need to build loyalty must see four consequences.

  1. Building loyalty to the values, purposes and people of an organization is swimming against the tide of current trends. It will entail time and energy.
  2. Managers need to either commit to building employee loyalty or quit criticizing about the lack of it.
  3. Employees will likely reap what they sow in terms of loyalty. If they do not learn the lessons of loyalty now, they will not know how to earn and build loyalty when they become managers.
  4. Managers need to vet potential employees as to their prior commitment to organizational values, purposes and people rather than just personal gain.

In terms of employee loyalty, managers can choose to either curse the darkness or light a candle.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Traits of Effective Change Leaders

'Facilitating Effective Change' by Patrick Love (ISBN 1505402387) Leaders invest remarkable talent, energy, and caring in their change efforts, yet few see the desired results. There is a good reason. Today’s leaders simply do not have much practice at large-scale change. Few organizations were doing sweeping reinvention 30 years ago, so there is little experience to pass on. The changes undertaken today—producing better products, faster, at lower cost—were inconceivable 30 years ago. Over the next decade, leaders will guide remarkable changes. That is a social and economic imperative.

Leaders exist at all levels. At the edges of the business enterprise, needless to say, leaders are responsible for less territory. Their vision may sound more simple; the number of people to motivate may be few. However, they perform the same role in leading change.

  • They outshine at seeing things through fresh eyes and at challenging the status quo.
  • They are energetic and pervade through, or around, obstacles.
  • People who provide great leadership are also deeply interested in a cause or discipline related to their focus area.
  • Such change leaders also tap deep convictions of others and connect those feelings to the purpose; they show the meaning of people’s work to that larger purpose.
  • The most prominent trait of great leaders is their quest for learning. They push themselves out of their comfort zones and continue to take risks.
  • They are open to people and ideas. Often they are driven by goals or ideals that are bigger than what any individual can pull off, and that gap pushes them to keep learning.

The single biggest impetus for change tends to be a new manager in a key job. It is often a new division-level manager or a new department head—someone with fresh perspective—that sees that the status quo is unacceptable. Producing change is about 80 percent leadership—establishing direction, aligning, motivating, and inspiring people—and about 20 percent management—planning, budgeting, organizing, and problem solving. Regrettably, in most change efforts, those percentages are reversed. We continue to produce great managers; we need to develop great leaders.

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Being on The Leading Edge: How to Create Strategies That Change Quickly

Being on The Leading Edge: How to Create Strategies That Change Quickly Even under the best of conditions, life and business seldom work as planned. For leaders, the capability to predict has become a pipe dream. For businesses to stay ahead of the pack, strategies must change quickly. The top-down decision-making system no longer works. Today, the best companies seek the knowledge of employees to generate strategies that meet six goals:

  1. Stay responsive to customers. No one knows better than front-line employees what customers need and anticipate. Those who work most closely with buyers should lead the decision-making in product development because these employees do not have to deduce to reach a decision-their close proximity to customers gives them both empirical and anecdotal knowledge that managers cannot have. Managers must expand their focus to the needs of external customers by helping create boundary-less organizations that permit information about and from customers to flow quickly to everybody. Managers must kill policies and practices that prevent a focus on the customer and include customer orientation and service in performance reviews, promotion criteria, and incentive compensation plans. Managers must have the external customer in mind at all times.
  2. 'Strategic Management Awareness and Change' by Frank Martin (ISBN 1473726336) Hire and develop the right people. Too many executives fail to recognize their primary mission: to make a direct contribution to corporate profits. The key is to hire the “right” employees based on desired skills and competencies and guide them through the right jobs. Human Resource managers can help determine where, when and how to integrate employee skills, training and competencies to achieve corporate objectives. The HR manager must engage in a consultative role with the leadership team, and become a partner in strategic planning. Every HR practice, principle, program, or process must directly support the business objectives and strategies. Work hard to bring into line people, programs, and practices with business strategies.
  3. Retain valuable employees. The number of employees working at any company now ebbs and flows. In place of a fixed workforce, companies hire up or scale down depending on production requirements. In theory, that makes sense. In practice, however, it often clashes with the realities of the new labor pool. Today’s young workers rank empowerment high on their list of expectations. For managers, the challenge is to create a workforce that thrives in both quantitative and qualitative terms. The best and the brightest employees must be retained at all cost. The best companies go to any length to protect their “intellectual capital.” To retain the best workers, companies are creating more dialogue to find ways to give them a strong sense of purpose, control, and ownership.
  4. Reduce management burnout. As cutbacks persist, many companies are transferring more work to a smaller management team. What results, of course, is premature burnout. Many managers, in whom the company has authorized a lot of training, suddenly are bailing out. Empowering all employees is a way to reduce pressure on managers. Teams also make it possible for managers to more broaden their knowledge, and to delegate more efficiently.
  5. Achieve greater flexibility. If workers see their role as merely to carry out a plan handed down from on high, they aren’t likely to adapt strategies to new circumstances. But, if they see themselves as having the power to shape the strategies, they are more likely to act flexibly and responsively. Today, our best companies find ideas and move them up to managers who then judge and prioritize ideas and facilitate their implementation. These decision-makers have the right to make the final call. Without these key managers, employee empowerment stands little chance of prospering. When empowerment is done appropriately, a company will retain good employees, reduce burnout, respond more quickly to customers, and be malleable enough to flow with marketplace changes
  6. 'Strategic Leadership for a Change' by Kenneth McFayden (ISBN 156699392X) Listen to build profits and morale. Managers need to hear employees’ suggestions because employees are closer to customers and processes. Most fast growth companies implore employee recommendations. Their success rests on a steady flow of ideas, and most employees want to provide suggestions: They want to express their ideas and beliefs. For a suggestion program to work, however, employees must be encouraged to submit ideas and rewarded for exceptional ideas. Management must act on ideas to create a supportive culture.

Leading companies track employee ideas. They measure suggestions per employee, percentage accepted, average turnaround time to handle suggestions, and percentage of eligible employees who participate. They proactively ask for ideas, and they respond to all suggestions quickly-within days, not months. They make sure employees know company priorities so their suggestions reflect these concerns. They create a strong sense of teamwork by bouncing ideas around while working toward the same goal. In companies with a strong team culture, ideas not only tend to come more often, but are better developed.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Quotes from Jeswald W. Salacuse’s Leading Leaders

'Leading Leaders' by Jeswald Salacuse (ISBN 0814417663) Jeswald W. Salacuse‘s Leading Leaders shows readers how to improve your capability to control three key facets of negotiation—interests, voice, and vision—towards advance your power and persuasiveness as a leader. His practical guide scrutinizes the vital role of negotiation in expanding, using, and maintaining leadership within organizations, large and small, public and private. Its purpose is to educate readers on the way to use negotiation to lead effectively. Here are quotes from his book.

  • “Smart, talented, rich, and powerful people require one-on-one leadership, tailor-made leadership, leadership up close and personal.”
  • “Elicit as much relevant information as possible in conducting a one-on-one encounter and strive to interpret that information accurately.”
  • “Lack of authority does not necessarily mean lack of power.”
  • “You find leaders at all levels throughout any organization, whether or not they have an office in the executive suite or a seat on the governing board.”
  • “Failures of an organization to achieve desired results lie as often in mistakes of leadership as in the intractable structure the situation.”
  • “People follow you because they believe it is in their interests to do so.”
  • “The test of leadership is followership.”
  • “Smart, talented, rich, and powerful people require one-on-one leadership, tailor-made leadership, leadership up close and personal.”
  • “The medium you use says things about you and about your relationship with the person you are trying to lead.”
  • “Avoid the tendency to dominate conversations and to talk more than listen, a tendency that has the effect of inhibiting the persons you are trying to lead.”
  • “Use questions to probe the underlying interests of the persons you hope to lead.”
  • “Move your followers to take action by characterizing a problem or challenge in such a way that it is in their interests to do something about it.”
  • “Mere articulation of the vision is not enough. You must convince your followers to accept it.”
  • “Persons you lead will look to you to motivate them, encourage them, and strengthen them to do the right thing for the organization.”
  • “Without creating trust you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to direct, integrate, mediate, educate, motivate, or represent the persons you lead.”
  • “In organizations and groups composed of leaders, each of them is likely to have a quite distinct organizational vision.”
  • “Beware of becoming so intoxicated by your own vision that you fail to see clearly the reservations that members of your organization may have about pursuing that vision enthusiastically.”
  • “You need to find and develop a process that will enable the organization’s members to participate in determining new directions.”
  • “In leading leaders, the most effective instrument is not an order but the right question.”
  • “The follower’s dilemma creates a constant tension between the drive to assert individual interests and the drive to assert organizational interests.”
  • “An organization without a common accepted culture may experience constant conflict, miscommunications, disappointed expectations, and dysfunction.”
  • “You first need to understand the nature of the cultural differences that divide your organization’s members and then seek to find ways to bridge that gap.”
  • “Leaders need to be cheerleaders for the organization both inside and outside.”
  • “A mediator may move a dispute toward resolution by bringing to the situation the skills and resources that the parties themselves lack.”
  • “The more an organization allows its members autonomy of action, the more likely it is that a resolution of conflicts will require mediation.”
  • “A first principle for any leader teacher is to know the persons to be taught; it affects what you teach and how you teach it.”
  • “When you educate leaders, you need to identify their frameworks and figure out how to use them for the educational purposes you want to achieve.”
  • “To the extent that “command and control” leadership does not work with other leaders, seek to rely on “advice and consent” leadership.”
  • “One of your basic tools as an educator of other leaders is not the declarative sentence but the question.”
  • “Leaders usually do not view their professional activities as just a job, but as a profession, a calling, a life-long commitment to an area of endeavor.”
  • “Understanding the interests of the people you lead comes from getting to know those people extremely well, as persons, a process that requires one-on-one interactions.”
  • “Before seeking to convince other persons of the rightness of a particular position, first work hard to convince yourself.”
  • “Motivate your followers by envisioning a future that will benefit them and communicating that future to them in a convincing way.”
  • “You must not only focus your efforts on the people you lead, but also concentrate enormous attention on the world outside your organization.”
  • “One of the most important functions that leadership representation serves is the acquisition of needed resources.”
  • “Don’t confuse trust with friendship. Creating a friendly relationship with people you lead doesn’t automatically mean that they will trust you.”
  • “Persons who trust each other are more likely to achieve a higher level of performance.”
  • “Openness is not just an easy smile or a charming manner; it refers to the process by which you make decisions that have implications for your followers’ interests.”
  • “Developing trust among the people you lead is also an incremental process. They will learn to trust one another through experiences of working together.”
  • “In organizations and groups composed of leaders, each of them is likely to have a quite distinct organizational vision.”
  • “Beware of becoming so intoxicated by your own vision that you fail to see clearly the reservations that members of your organization may have about pursuing that vision enthusiastically.”

Salacuse is Distinguished Professor and Braker Professor of Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

To Manage Change Effectively, Transfer All Learning to Behavior

Successfully Lead in Change Management

Managing change effectively starts with determining what knowledge, skills, and attitudes are needed to achieve the desired behavior and results. Leaders must know the concepts, principles, and techniques required for managing change.

Managing has a two-fold meaning: (1) to decide on the changes to be made and (2) to get the acceptance of those involved in the change. Training professionals can control the learning content. However, changing behavior is under the control of the line managers whose people are trained. Therefore, these concepts, principles, and techniques are important to trainers and managers alike.

10 “Managing Change” Concepts

  • Everyone is resistant to change. Yes, everyone resists or resents change, but not all the time. It gets down to a simple fact: “How will it affect me?” The main reason why people resist or resent a change is that it will affect them in a negative way. For example, when in 1973, Sears’ management decided to build the tallest building in the world in Chicago and have all Sears’s employees in the area move there, not everyone was happy. Some people resisted the change because of the additional cost of travel, parking expenses, commute time, fear of heights, the lack of space, or the separation from friends. However, many welcomed the change because they would be in town for eating and shopping; be in the tallest building; look out over the city; and have better working conditions.
  • People will not always accept changes decided on by “experts.” It makes no difference whether or not “experts” made the decision or the boss made it. Many years ago, industrial engineering consultants (experts) were hired by manufacturing organizations to make decisions on reducing costs. In most cases, some people (10 percent) lost their jobs. The attitudes and feelings of those who lost their jobs as well as the other employees were so strong that cost reductions rarely occurred because of the negative attitudes and lower productivity of their friends. Seldom will “experts” or “facts” have the desired result because the feelings and attitudes of those affected are so strong.
  • 'Managing Change (Pocket Mentor)' by Harvard Business School Press (ISBN 1422129691)If you want people to accept or welcome a change, give them a feeling of “ownership.” When I taught decision-making, I used statements to describe the four choices a manager has when making a decision: 1) make a decision without any input from subordinates; 2) ask subordinates for suggestions and consider them before you decide; 3) facilitate a problem-solving meeting to reach consensus; and 4) empower your subordinates to make the decision. In deciding on the best approach for making the decision, consider two factors: quality and acceptance. Regarding quality, which approach will reach the best decision? There is no assurance that one approach will come to a better decision. However, the more involvement (ownership), the greater the acceptance.
  • People who do not understand the reason for a change will sometimes resent or resist it. For example, my pension benefits at the University of Wisconsin were changed so I could retire at age 62 without losing any benefits. I do not know why the state made the change, but I benefited from it and did not resent it. Any change that will benefit employees will be welcome, whether or not they understand the reasons for it.
  • Empathy is one of the most important concepts in managing change. Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of others and seeing things from their point of view. Training professionals must determine the needs of the learners so that the program will be practical. Whether using E-learning or classroom approaches, they must communicate so that the learners will understand. In addition, managers must know how to help them apply what they learn.
  • Persons who have no control over the people affected by a change can have some effect on their acceptance. A training manager once told me, “Don, I have no control over the learners when they leave the classroom, so it is up to their managers to see that change in behavior occurs.” This person was right in saying “I have no control” but wrong in saying it is strictly up to the managers. Trainers will have to use “influence” instead of “control” to see that change in behavior occurs.
  • Managers should encourage and accept suggestions from all employees. What can they lose? In addition, they might gain new practical ideas as well as build relationships with the person suggesting the change. Yet few managers welcome ideas and accept suggestions from other managers because there is little if any difference between a “suggestion” and a “criticism,” no matter how tactfully the suggestion is offered. To receivers, a suggestion says: either “you are doing something you should quit doing” or “do something you aren’t doing.” Someone came up with an interesting and “practical” idea for improvement in performance. Instead of using the typical performance appraisal approach where only the manager appraises the performance and offers suggestions on how to improve, the “360-degree” approach was introduced to include appraisals and improvement suggestion from managers, peers, and subordinates. If managers do not even accept suggestions from peers, imagine how many managers will resent suggestions from subordinates. Organizations that use the 360-degree approach have trouble convincing managers that their people are trying to help them.
  • 'Managing Change in Organizations: A Practice Guide' by Project Management Institute (ISBN 1628250151)If changes are going to be resisted, managers should move slowly in order to gain acceptance. Time can often change resistance to acceptance if the change is introduced gradually. Often people resist change out of fear of failure. You might decide to train the ones who want the new opportunity and terminate or transfer those who do not want to change. Alternatively, you might decide that you do not have to make the change immediately. Time, patience, and training eventually move most employees from the present state to the desired one. The question is “what is the hurry?” When you introduce change gradually, you increase acceptance, especially when you also encourage and help people adjust to the change.
  • Effective communication is an important requirement for managing change effectively. This includes upward as well as downward communication. Managers must listen even if they are being criticized, which in many cases was meant to be a helpful suggestion. Instructors must be effective communicators by gaining and keeping the attention of the learner, using vocabulary that the learner understands, and listening to the questions and comments of the learners.
  • Managers and training professionals need to work together for the transfer to take place from “learning” to “behavior.” An important principle has to do with the “climate” that the learner encounters when returning to the job. If the manager is “preventive” and operates on the attitude that “I am the boss and you will do it my way regardless of what you have learned,” no change in behavior will take place. Not only will learners be discouraged from changing, they will also be upset by all the wasted time. The ideal climate is where the manager encourages learning and its application on the job. The training professional must influence managers by informing them of the learning objectives and involving them in the training process.

The Three Keys to Change Management are Empathy, Communication and Participation

The aforementioned 10 concepts, principles, and techniques are necessary for managing change effectively. Managers must encourage people to apply what they learn and to transfer learning to behavior. Training professionals must be sure that the curriculum will meet the needs of the learners. The training programs must be effective using competent instructors. They must use empathy to understand the climate established by the managers. Then, they must work with managers to help them establish an encouraging climate so that the learning will be transferred to behavior change and results will follow.

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Reflect on Why You Lead

Reflect on Why You Lead - Personal Leadership Journey

My Personal Leadership Journey

For the past 30 years, I have worked in business, primarily in energy, but here I share a few aspects of my personal leadership journey over the past six years and how that journey has changed my outlook on life.

You are leaders with your own roles and responsibilities. Your journey will be unique; however, I believe that we share many concerns in common. At times leadership can feel overwhelming. There are so many practical issues-how to communicate, coach, and develop strategy. But there are other, more fundamental questions-like “why lead?” or “why continue leading?” or “Am I doing the right thing?” or “How do I find meaning, purpose, and joy in my leadership?” These are the questions we all have to answer for ourselves.

'The Leadership Journey' by Gary Burnison (ISBN 1119234859) Leadership can be very rewarding-personally, professionally, and financially-but it can also be very challenging. Nothing is ever quite right. There are many setbacks and sacrifices. We often get caught up in the struggle without reflecting on the greater meaning of our journey.

Even after becoming a successful entrepreneur, I wrestled with “why?” questions. In fact, they seemed even more pressing. When you don’t have to work anymore, you can get very honest with yourself. The questions are still there-no matter how far along the leadership path you go. But the further you go, the better the answers have to get. Beyond words that sound right, the answers have to be deeply meaningful to sustain you.

I set many business goals, and am proud of what I helped to create. I experienced much satisfaction from our achievements. But “more of the same” didn’t seem like enough. I was seeking more important insights. Our lives and businesses are very complex. But I came to feel that the real answers should be simple. Truth, I believe, is simple, and the messages of great leaders are simple and clear.

Four Leadership Lessons

One catalyst in this process was my attendance at the Global Institute of Leadership Development conference five years ago. Warren Bennis was a cohost, and I was impressed with his wonderful example of leadership and inspired by his ideas. The theme that had the greatest impact on me was “find your leadership voice and passion.” His message spoke to me. I asked myself, “Have I really done that?” It seemed to require using more parts of myself. The more aligned we are with our unique abilities and talents, the better everything seems to work. And fully expressing ourselves suggests values and beliefs-even spiritual qualities.

At that time, another story line developed that became the source of many new insights that helped change my life and my leadership. It started with plans for the new Millennium in 1999.1 initially had a fun idea to charter a yacht in the Caribbean, but it became something much more meaningful. My family planned to contribute to the building of a 150-bed hospital in southern India. Over the last six years, this has led to involvement in building a school, a seva hall to feed the poor, and a spiritual park to nourish peoples’ souls-among other projects. Despite all the project activity, visiting this area of India is very rejuvenating for me. In fact, a one-week trip around the world to India is more restful for me than a week in Hawaii.

Through my experience in India, I learned four leadership lessons:

Lesson 1 in Purposeful Leadership: Joy

'The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership' by Gary Burnison (ISBN 0071787127) As the locals, as well as people from around the world, came to help us with our projects in India, they worked long and hard, but with joy and passion. Now, I’m familiar with “24/7” work from the investment banking world; however, these people also seemed to find meaning and joy. Their mode of operating seemed to be not only a more enlightened way to live, and pointed to a more effective form of leadership.

Happiness is good, but it’s fleeting. It may be the feeling you get from buying a new car, or house, or getting a new job or promotion. The feeling lasts for awhile, and then passes. You then need a new acquisition or achievement. It’s externally bound.

Joy is deeper, fuller, more sustaining. It’s a feeling you would have about your children, something special you did for someone, or something you received. It’s a feeling you can always revisit with joy. It’s internally connected.

How do you move from happiness to joy, and how can you create more joy in your life regularly? Joy isn’t something you can buy (a thing), or something you can do for yourself. You can’t create joy for yourself directly-it is only through others. You can’t operate in that joyful realm in a sustained way until you get outside yourself, because it’s not about you. Churchill said, “You make a living by what you earn, but you make a life by what you give.” Serving others is what great leaders do.

In his book The Spirit of Leadership, Bob Sptizer describes four levels of happiness: physical gratification, ego gratification, service to others, and service to others in pursuit of a greater cause. The last two are in the realm of joy, as they take you from selfish to selfless, from conditional to unconditional.

Lesson 2 in Purposeful Leadership: Enough

Early in my career, I set some ambitious goals for myself, including financial ones. People suggested that once I achieved these goals, I would keep moving the goal posts. I didn’t believe them then, but they were right. What I achieved went far beyond my expectations, but I still found myself reframing my goals.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except for one aspect. It wasn’t making me any happier; in fact, it started to take a toll on my life-stress, pressure, obligations. When is enough, enough? There is no absolute point. Deciding is difficult. We are naturally attracted to more. Most people think if they reach their next destination or goal, they will finally have enough. But once they arrive, they inevitably discover another level of desire.

“More of the same” will not help us attain what we ultimately seek. In fact, “more” implies we’re incomplete. We think that we’ll finally arrive when we achieve the next goal. Of course, the horizon moves out. After a certain level, it’s a choice. “That’s it – I have enough right now.” When you reach that point, something remarkable happens because it’s no longer just about you. It’s a transformational awareness. It moves you from your own self-interest to otherinterest, from conditional to unconditional, and from happiness to joy.

So what about work? What about those goals that are so motivating? They are still there, but they take on more importance-because now they’re for a greater purpose.

I continue as Co-Chairman at ARC Financial Corporation, but I contribute all the growth in value to others. It’s turned my work into something with more purpose-and it’s more sustaining. How you share your talents and gifts will be unique. But I can attest that when you start operating on this basis, more incredible things happen to you and for you than ever could have happened when your own needs were paramount. That’s the paradox of opening yourself to joy.

Lesson 3 in Purposeful Leadership: Wealth

This is an interesting topic for someone like me who has devoted much of his career to finance, investment, and wealth. I could talk all day about maximizing shareholder value or about making investments in energy markets. Instead I want to talk about wealth in a different way and offer a new perspective.

Wealth is generally thought of as assets, and if you were truly wealthy then you would think that your financial wealth would provide “enough.” But if you ask many people with wealth, you find that they generally have both a need and a plan for more.

In India, we see a lot of poverty and hardship, but we also see a lot of joy. What we all need to realize is that real wealth is in the heart, and it is experienced when you have peace and joy-that is when you finally have “enough.”

As I struggled to integrate my future business life with my philanthropy, I asked Linkage founder Phil Harkins to work with me-on the condition that he come to India. He was skeptical, but he joined our family there in 2004. We talked about the challenges facing leaders. One morning, he said he had been up all night writing the outline for a book. “We need to explore some key insights here that could be important to leaders,” he said. “But there’s one condition-you need to help me write it.”

A major part of the book involved interviewing 25 successful leaders to understand how they answered those questions. What qualities, intentions and aspirations did they have that made them so successful? To what extent did those insights from India about wealth and joy play out? That brings me to my fourth lesson.

Lesson 4 in Purposeful Leadership: Unconditional Leadership

What draws us to leadership will not sustain us. For us to grow and evolve so must our leadership. If we are aligned with our purpose and what we find meaningful, then our leadership is more successful and sustainable.

Each leader in our study found meaning and created more impact through an orientation towards serving others. Here are two representative quotes: “Personal reasons will only take you so far” and “In building a company, ultimately you are serving others.” Another said “Leadership will challenge you in ways you couldn’t imagine.”

'Unlocking Potential' by Michael Simpson (ISBN 1477824006) Warren Bennis describes the process of becoming a leader as much the same as the process of becoming an integrated human being. Leaders evolve through both failures and successes to their mature style. What is that style in its ultimate form? One important aspect if that style is moving from leading for oneself, to leading with others, to leading for others. This last stage, unconditional leadership, is the soul of leadership.

When I visited an orphanage with over 100 children in India last year with my family, the experience evoked many emotions and much anxiety. These children have so little. When we arrived, the kids came out to greet us, and our anxiety disappeared as we were swept up in the experience of being with them. We brought ice cream and cookies, but the kids wouldn’t eat any until we had some of their treat for us first. They performed songs and dances, and they embraced us. Even though they had so little, they still had joy and laughter and shared it with us. My children saw abundance in a whole new way-a way that did not relate to the material world but to the heart. Despite their hardships, we felt that abundance and love, which is more meaningful and joyful.

Reflect on Why You Lead

You can make a difference. If you want to change the world, first you have to change yourself. If you change – yourself, if you change your heart, it will change the world.

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How to Create a Culture of Appreciation

How to Create a Culture of Appreciation

Through Appreciation, Your Human Resources Will Increase in Value and Worth

Most of us think we appreciate our employees. We say “good job” for work well done, we give out Employee of the Month awards, and we honor our top producers. Yet, two out of three workers say they didn’t receive a single word of praise or simple recognition in the past year. Well, you think, “That’s the other guy—I appreciate, I’m grateful.” Yet, the number one reason people leave jobs is lack of appreciation—not low pay, not too many hours, or too few benefits. People quit first because they don’t feel appreciated!

'Making Feedback Work' by Elaine Holland (ISBN 1496103041) How much does turnover cost you? How much do you spend in recruiting, hiring, and training new hires? How much time-productivity is lost in the process? In addition, what about absenteeism and lack of motivation and enthusiasm? Because those who aren’t quitting, but who feel unappreciated, are coming to work less often, with less zeal and less commitment. And who incurs the cost? You. Your business. Your company.

And the cost is considerable. Appreciation has a real and measurable impact on your bottom line. Studies reveal that the degree to which people feel their company recognizes employee excellence results in dramatic differences to the company’s bottom line. Businesses effectively valuing their employees enjoy triple the returns on equity, returns on assets, and higher operating margins.

And that’s just when employee excellence is appreciated. What do you think can happen—what does happen—when you have an entire culture of appreciation? When an obsession with value, with the worth of people and situations, becomes your way of doing business?

Companies such as Southwest Airlines and See’s Candies have embraced the appreciation approach. The result? Southwest Airlines is making money while its competitors are filing for bankruptcy. See’s Candies has tremendous customer loyalty, longevity, and profitability in an industry fraught with competition. When I interviewed the leaders of these companies, I discovered that they have a culture of appreciation.

Value Your Employees and Attract Value from Them

Value Your Employees and Attract Value from Them

Appreciation is not just another word for gratitude. Appreciation is about recognizing and caring about the value of things. This is the way the word appreciation is used in the marketplace: we say that land appreciates, gold appreciates, art appreciates,—and they all increase in value and in worth. When you are genuinely concerned with the value and worth of your people, and decide to make valuing your number-one priority, the value of your business skyrockets.

'1501 Ways to Reward Employees' by Bob Nelson (ISBN 0761168788) The reason appreciation works so spectacularly is scientific: Appreciation is an energy that attracts like energy. Therefore, by valuing your employees, you attract value from them. Like attracts like. It’s not just a catchy phrase—it’s a scientific reality you can use to your direct benefit.

How? It all starts with you—whether you’re the owner, department head, manager, or supervisor—what you think and what you feel affects every person involved with your company. You set the tone, you set the pace, and you determine what is going to matter and what isn’t. You have enormous impact.

If you see your products and services as having tremendous value, those you manage will appreciate them in the same way. If you see the people who work for you as having tremendous value, those people will want to step up to the plate for you. Your business cannot help but prosper. It’s scientific. Like attracts like.

Five Ways to Appreciate Your Employees

Five Ways to Appreciate Your Employees … Your Human Resources

Here are five ways you can appreciate beyond Employee of the Month:

  • Adopt an appreciative focus. Appreciation is an active, purposeful search for the value or worth of whatever or whomever you meets. Many times, your focus is on everything that’s going wrong as you come to work: all the problems that you must somehow solve or delegate to be solved. In the process, you ignore, and most emphatically fail to value, everything that’s going right. Look at your business with new eyes. Search for what you can appreciate and find of value in every person, every moment of the day. Ask your managers to report what’s working right, where the greatest progress is being made, who’s going the extra mile. Take time to acknowledge the positive reports from your managers, ask for more details, and be enthusiastic about what they have to say.
  • Problem-solve with appreciation. When problems inevitably arise, ask employees what they think might resolve the issue. When valued this way, most workers will try to produce good solutions, especially since they often know the workings of their particular job or department better than anyone does. By using this approach, you are acknowledging your employees’ value before usurping it with yours. Of course, others will not always solve problems for you, but by valuing your workers’ ability to do so, you increase the chances that they will. In addition, by acknowledging their value, you increase the possibility that employees will become proactive and eagerly seek solutions to future problems. When you see value in people, you free them to be more creative, more innovative, and more valuable to your business. In addition, when employees are part of the solution-making process, they own the solution and are therefore more willing to do what it takes to see it through.
  • 'The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace' by Gary Chapman and Paul White (ISBN 080246176X) Catch employees in the act of doing something right. So often, we focus on only catching employees doing something wrong. In truth, catching people doing something right, something of value, is far more beneficial to your business. Make a habit of walking around the business spontaneously. Using the appreciation reports gleaned from your department heads, let workers know that you appreciate a specific aspect of their effort. Tell them how their “good act” was noticed and what it means to you and to the company. Know enough about what workers are doing in different departments so you can make meaningful comments about their contributions. Specific comments are much more appreciated. Saying “You’re doing a great job” isn’t as meaningful as saying, “The specs you wrote up on Project X really made a difference to our customer.”Ask employees what they’re working on now. Engage them in conversation about their work. Wanting to know their thoughts lets employees know that what they think and say is valuable. Look workers in the eye, use their name, and be genuinely interested in their comments.
  • Create a culture of appreciation. Collect stories of work done well. Make heroes of the men and women who work for and with you. We are all starved for recognition, for genuine applauding of our talents and skills. The success of TV reality shows is predicated on our need to be valued and to be seen as valuable. We want to be appreciated for who we are and want the opportunity to be winners. Celebrate the value of those who deserve, regardless of position or department. Celebrate workers’ good acts outside of work as well. By fostering a culture that acknowledges good acts within your community, your company will reap the benefits. Discourage negative talk and gossip about anyone or anything. Don’t indulge in “the economy is terrible,” “stockholders are a nuisance,” or “meetings are a waste of time” conversations. Don’t trash or bash others.
  • Lead by example. Appreciation is not a fad or technique. It is a paradigm shift, a new approach. It is even more critical today when employees often have a variety of career choices and move on when they feel unappreciated. If you want to see the tremendous advantage an appreciative approach can make, infuse your business with appreciative thoughts and practices.

It all starts with you. From you, appreciation can spread to the great benefit of your performance, productivity, and profitability.

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How Dell Created a Great Place to Work

How Dell Created a Great Place to Work

Dell has been known for its productivity; however, behind productivity are people, and Dell is learning what it means to be a great company and a great place to work.

Dell has been a results-driven company for a long time—almost to the exclusion of everything else! In many ways, that has accounted for Dell’s success. One thing I discovered is that when your stock is going up 300 percent a year, no one pays much attention to issues like “effective management” or “creating career tracks for your people.” People willingly work very hard for long periods because the payoff is so huge.

Dell’s crisis of conscience came in 2001 when, for the first time, Dell had to lay people off. In late 2001, Dell went through a self-discovery process where Dell started to ask, “If we aren’t going to be a company where you can come in and be rich by noon tomorrow, what are we? What do we aspire to? What kind of company do we want to be?” Dell’s president, Kevin Rollins, and CEO Michael Dell began a dialogue about what it really means to be a great company and a great place to work.

Creating a Winning Culture at Dell

In the end, Dell came up with what probably looks to outsiders like a beliefs-and-values statement. Dell called it “The Soul of Dell.” It is a statement of Dell’s aspirations as a company. There are five aspects: the Dell team, customers, direct relationships, global citizenship, and winning. Dell shared early drafts of the documents with all of Dell’s vice presidents, and had some great dialogue about what Dell leaders and employees together aspired to become.

The biggest gap was between where Dell were and where Dell wanted to be with the Dell team. So leaders and employees started to talk about what it would mean to be a winning culture. Leaders soon realized that they would have to broaden the definition of what they cared about, beyond financial results. They continue to care very much about what they accomplish, but also how they accomplish it. After focusing more on performance for 15 years, when they came out with a beliefs-and-values statement Dell’s employees were a bit skeptical. In the first year, Dell had a series of programs, town-hall meetings, brown-bag sessions, and other discussions to talk about what Dell aspired to do—all of which were met with great enthusiasm and great skepticism at the same time. The enthusiasm was driven by the view that Dell needed to do more to become a great place to work over time. The skepticism was driven by a concern about whether or not Dell believed and were committed to what it’s leaders were saying.

Dell's Improvements to Management Quality and Organizational Culture

Dell’s Improvements to Management Quality and Organizational Culture

Last year, Dell’s leaders put some teeth in Dell’s effort to improve the quality of management and improve the culture. We decided to administer Dell’s employee opinion survey, “Tell Dell,” twice a year, and they asked every vice president, director, and manager to get 20 percent better results than the year before. We wanted to send a signal: The results are important, but how you get results is also important. At first people said, “That’s nice, but will they really pay attention?” The major change they made was to identify metrics, based on responses by employees, that measured how well Dell’s managers managed and how well leaders led. In short, they decided employees would vote on whether or not they had made any progress.

The results were interesting. First, they got 90 percent participation worldwide, which is amazing itself, and over 90 percent the second time they did it. When they first did the survey, they didn’t show much progress from earlier years, which was to be expected. But Michael and Kevin talk about it every time they get together as a senior management team. They direct the senior team to share the results, in front of their peers. And they discuss their own scores. That’s what caught people’s attention. Slowly but surely, we’re getting better—as are Dell’s managers throughout the company.

There are about 30 statements on the survey, and they use five of them as core metrics for measurements: My manager is effective at managing people. My manager gives effective feedback. If you had an opportunity to work some place other than Dell, would you take it? I feel like I can be successful and retain my individuality at Dell. My manager helps me manage my work/life balance.

When they did the second survey, it was fun. We did get 20 percent better! I think they were all surprised at how much progress they had made. What was even more amazing is mat this happened across the board—they got better everywhere.

This has been a very positive experience for everyone. Dell’s leaders are reminded that if they put Dell’s minds to it, they can get better at a lot of things—even things that seem intangible. For Dell’s employees, it has been positive because it has driven far more conversations about issues between managers and their people. We’re using simple metrics to measure change, but are broadening Dell’s definition of what it means to be a great company.

Dell's Leadership Development

Dell’s Leadership Development

For three years they have had a company-wide leadership program. It’s one-day long, and all leader-led (they never use consultants). Each year, they focus on a different facet of leadership at Dell. Each year, they advance what it means to be an effective leader at Dell. And every year it starts with Michael and Kevin. They devote one day to teach Dell’s strategy committee—Dell’s senior-most decision-making group—about what it means to be a good leader. Then each of us repeats that leadership training with Dell’s direct reports, and on down the company. We all share Dell’s expectations with Dell’s teams about leadership. It is a powerful change mechanism—to stand in front of your team and discuss what you expect them to do differently, and then have them tell you what you need to do to improve.

'Direct from Dell' by Michael Dell (ISBN 0060845724) First, it’s powerful that Dell’s chairman and president are willing to spend a day to talk about this because it is a very revealing process. They talk about things that they did well and poorly. It’s powerful to stand in front of your own team and lead a discussion about leadership. Personally, I feel very exposed during those conversations. I know that they know what the leadership issues are with me, and so I have to fess up and say, “Well, here’s what I think I need to work on.”

We have also used 360 assessments more with Dell’s VPs and directors. We have put together a consistent worldwide management-development curriculum that defines expectations as well as builds skills. We also have short tutorial workshops for anyone who scores below 50 percent on any of the five items.

So, where do they go from here? We will do the survey again this year, and this time everyone will be expected to get at least 50 percent favorable responses on each question. If you’ve got an approval rate of higher than 75 percent, we’ll ask you to stay at that level; it’s hard to ask those people to get a 20 percent improvement when they are already doing so well.

Dell’s European team, in addition to doing what we’ve done, asked their entire management team, “If you were going to teach one lesson in leadership to the people on the Dell Europe team, what would that be?” Then they were asked to develop a 45-minute approach to teach that lesson. Every time they meet with a new group or visit a new country, they take an hour and teach their lesson in leadership. It puts Dell’s leaders up in front of Dell’s employees more consistently.

Almost every culture change has a back-to-basics emphasis because people tend to lose their focus on the business. We came at this from an opposite position. Dell’s business continues to do very well. Two years ago, they set a goal to double the size of the company in five years—and we’re already ahead of pace to do that. So, I’m proud to say that for a company on top of its game, they still want to be better—not just on Dell’s business results, but also in the way they manage Dell’s people.

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How to Address the Struggle for Self-Realization in Your Organization

At the dawn of the new millennium, two powerful factions are arrayed against each other. Each faction advocates an extensive list of reforms.

  1. those influenced to support the principle of equality of condition and to extend their progressive program of reforms
  2. those equally determined to reinstate equality of opportunity as the reigning principle.

Now, we need to tackle such concerns as the struggle for self-realization, the desire to find a deep-seated meaning in life than the endless accumulation of consumer durables and the pursuit of pleasure, education not only for careers but for spiritual values, methods of bankrolling an early and rewarding retirement, and increasing the quality time available for family activities.

The changing nature and distribution of work and leisure and changes in the structure of consumer demand are creating overabundance in some areas (such as the excessive consumption of calories and fat) and severe shortages in others (such as health services at all ages).

How to Address the Struggle for Self-Realization in Your Organization

To accomplish self-realization, we need to understand life’s opportunities and sense which ones are most attractive to us at each stage, and the requisite educational, material, and spiritual resources to pursue these opportunities. Currently fair access to spiritual resources is as much a benchmark as access to material resources was in the past.

  • Spiritual resources include a sense of purpose, a sense of opportunity, a sense of community, a strong family ethic, a strong work ethic, and high self-esteem.
  • Developments in physiology have contributed to the growth of the elderly population, giving rise to the problem of in, intergenerational equity—the assurance that one generation will not suffer a lop-sided share of the burden of financing a lifetime of self-realization.
  • Also pressing is the need to develop arrangements that permit prime-aged workers greater flexibility so that they can attend to their own and their family’s spiritual needs.
  • Lifelong learning is another new equity issue. It involves offering opportunities not only to upgrade skills to earn a living but also to extend knowledge in the arts and humanities.

For women, self-realization requires an end to glass ceilings and the creation of conditions that make careers and families fully compatible.

The new agenda is shaped by changes in structure that have reversed the trend toward economic concentration and the separation of work and home.

Today, 60 percent of our discretionary time is spent doing what we like (volwork). The abundance of leisure time promotes the search for a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.

Why this deep desire for volwork? Why do so many people want to forgo earnwork, which would allow them to buy more food, clothing, housing, and other goods? The answer turns partly on the extraordinary technological changes.

Food, housing, clothing, and other consumer durables have become so inexpensive in real terms that the totality of material consumption requires far fewer hours of labor today.

Indeed, we are approaching saturation in the consumption not only of necessities but also of goods that were in the recent past thought to be luxuries. The era of the household accumulation of consumer durables, which sparked the growth of manufacturing industries, is largely over. Most future purchases of consumer durables will be by those replacing items or establishing new households.

Quality of Life and Self-Realization

Today, ordinary people wish to use their liberated time to buy those amenities of life that only the rich could afford in abundance a century ago. These amenities broaden the mind, enrich the soul, and relieve the monotony of earnwork. They include travel, athletics, the performing arts, education, and shared time with family. The principal cost of these activities is often measured, not by cash outlays, but outlays of time.

Soon, the issue of life’s meaning, and other matters of self-realization, will take up the bulk of discretionary time.

'Rising Strong' by Brene Brown (ISBN 081298580X) New flexible work modes—such as a regular part-time work, blocks of work interrupted by blocks of released time, job sharing, flextime, telecommuting, hoteling, compressed work, early retirement, and postretirement earnwork arrangements—are desired by men and women who want a life that is not overwhelmed by earnwork. They do not measure success by income or position. They are content with a simpler lifestyle that places greater emphasis on family life, shared relationships, spiritual growth, religious faith, and good health.

Today, many corporations view alternative working arrangements as part of an inventory of personnel policies that increase corporate productivity and reduce absenteeism, labor turnover, and the cost of office space.

Today ordinary people must decide: What it the nature of the good life? Our world may be materially richer and contain fewer environmental risks, but its spiritual struggles are more complex.

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