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Stimulus Events That Can Trigger Employee Disengagement

Stimulus Events That Can Trigger Employee Disengagement

Employee disengagement has huge expenses for individuals and organizations. Employee engagement is indispensable to the health, well-being, and success of organizations and individuals as the work environment becomes leaner, more information-driven, and extremely competitive.

Employee engagement endures to capture the interest of practitioners and scholars, yet estimations are that between 50%and 70% of workers are not engaged. Disengagement has insinuations for profitability, productivity, safety, mental health, turnover, and employee theft.

'The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave' by Leigh Branham (ISBN 0814408516) Though there may be multiple symptoms behind low employee engagement levels, one common culprit is a failure of companies to diagnose that the way people work is developing. From Leigh Branham’s The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave:

  • Being passed over for promotion
  • Realizing the job is not as promised
  • Learning they may be transferred
  • Hiring boss being replaced by new boss they don’t like
  • Being assigned to new territory
  • Being asked to do something unethical
  • Learning the company is doing something unethical
  • Sudden wealth or sufficient savings to buy independence
  • Earning enough money (grubstake)
  • An incident of sexual harassment
  • An incident of racial discrimination
  • Learning the company is up for sale
  • Learning the company has been sold
  • Realizing they are underpaid compared to others doing the same job
  • Realizing they are not in line for promotion for which they thought they were in line
  • Realizing that their own behavior has become unacceptable
  • An unexpected outside job offer
  • Being pressured to make an unreasonable family or personal sacrifice
  • Being asked to perform a menial duty (e.g., run a personal errand for the boss)
  • Petty and unreasonable enforcement of authority
  • Being denied a request for family leave
  • Being denied a request for transfer
  • A close colleague quitting or being fired
  • A disagreement with the boss
  • A conflict with a coworker
  • An unexpectedly low performance rating
  • A surprisingly low pay increase or no pay increase

The costs of disengagement have not been calculated, though some statistics might begin to suggest on important economic reasons to address this silent majority. What makes it exceptional is the high level of employee engagement exhibited by its high performing workforce; the result of true enterprise-wide transparency and trustworthiness that is supported and promoted by all employees and people managers.

Disgruntled customers have a big impact on a business’s bottom line, which brings us to the most important reason employee engagement should be top of mind for executives.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Disentangle All of Your Mixed Messages to Diminish Anxiety

Disentangle All of Your Mixed Messages to Diminish Anxiety

Anxiety somehow touches almost every aspect of our lives. It is woven invisibly into the fabric of our existence and often sets into motion a chain of reactions and circumstances.

As leaders, we need to ensure that anxiety does not consume our workplaces and degrade the performance of our people. The key to reducing anxiety at work is direct and clear communication that eliminates mixed messages—the catalytic driver of anxiety.

Communicative people are less anxious and more secure because they know where they stand. They are less afraid to ask the awkward questions and less intimidated to have difficult conversations. They know that “meta-messages” live inside of every communication, and they strive to create clarity and understanding.

For example, if you seek new business, you may fail to keep your team in the loop. As time passes, you leave your team without a leader. Soon your people feel disconnected from your activities. Worst-case scenarios seem to be whispered, and one-on-one side conversations echo the halls. As a result, anxiety starts to dominate your team. It shows up as people start distrusting your leadership capability, turning to other leaders outside the team for advice and information, creating concentric circles of communication with others, and building mountains out of molehills.

Our sense of security and well-being are profoundly affected by how well we are kept in the vital loop, how well our leaders interpret and integrate the dynamics and complexities of workplace life for us.

Interpreting Meta-Messages

Anxiety is a natural response to a perception about the future. Employee anxiety often becomes the ever-present fabric when their managers and leaders are suddenly behind dosed doors, speaking in hushed tones, and refusing to address rumors directly. This sends a very direct message. Great leaders put themselves in someone else’s shoes temporarily in an effort to interpret these events for them in a straightforward and truthful way. In doing so, they create a sense of calmness, control, forward movement, security, and direction. Unless leaders set a dear and explicit context for this communication, employees create their own worst-case scenarios.

Anxiety elevates under certain conditions. Lack of shared focus, purpose, and vision creates confusion. Lack of communication opens the door to paranoia (the ultimate anxiety response). Lack of interpersonal communication causes more emotion, misunderstanding, and anxiety.

Emotions have a dramatic effect on our success. Positive emotional connection is good for business. Lack of respect for others undermines security, which causes resentment-another form of anxiety. Failure to tap the inner talent and creativity causes deeper isolation and anxiety. Failure to develop team agreements, strategies, and decision-making policies enhances isolation. Management’s self-serving and exclusionary approaches cause isolation and anxiety among employees. Negativity and complaining become both the cause and effect of anxiety. Low morale due to leadership’s inability to acknowledge the truth causes anxiety.

Tips for Leaders to Diminish Anxiety

'13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do' by Amy Morin (ISBN 0062358308) How can you as a leader build an environment where people feel safe? Mixed messages cause employees to retreat into anxiety. For example, when you say you care about keeping people in the loop, yet fail to do so, you send meta-messages. When you talk at employees and give directives, but do not ask questions to clarify understanding, you set the context for mixed messages. Predictably, employees will think one thing while you say something else, and confusion will result. Mixed messages create a metaphorical moat. We don’t know which side of the river we are standing on, and without the security of knowing where we stand, we can’t do our best.

Instead of allowing mixed-messages and worst-case scenarios to take over, enhance your commendation and set the context for inclusion:

  • Don’t be afraid to stand up for your people. Create a safe environment so they know that you are there for them. When having vital conversations about the future direction, minimize misunderstandings. Repeat what employees say and ask questions to uncover hidden implications. Be sure that reviews are realistic so that people know exactly where they stand at all times. Be genuinely interested and acknowledge good effort and accomplishments for others to see. Clarify what employees are saying before drawing conclusions or making assumptions.
  • Keep an open mind even if you disagree with what is being said so you can understand employee concerns. Remember emotions don’t always reside in logic; they reside in anxiety, and that’s what you want to release, not amplify. Evaluate information without bias. Ask questions to hear concerns.
  • Respond rather than react. Acknowledge employees’ issues and points of view; listen actively so that you can respond. Listen to the logic and the emotion-convey that you hear what is being said at all levels.
  • Accept responsibility for the impact of the way you are communicating. Walk the talk-people will know that they can trust you. Say what you mean and mean what you say!
  • Don’t be a people pleaser—speak the truth. Be a change agent. Take timely action. Give constructive feedback.

Understanding how unspoken anxiety is affecting your business and dealing with it by straightening out mixed messages will have a big bottom-line payoff.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Earning the Right to Lead

Earning the Right to Lead

Becoming a leader within your organization is about more than just a title—it is about earning your right to lead. Leadership has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Leading with authority is no longer an effective way of getting results from your employees. Truly inspired results need to be earned.

Remember, you are not in charge. In order to build a sense of shared purpose among your employees—many of which come from wildly different backgrounds—you need to earn their trust. Demonstrate transparency, a willingness to listen, and be receptive to new ideas. Look at it this way: in earlier days, it was the employee who needed to earn the approval of his or her manager. Now the roles have been reversed. It is you, the manager, who needs to earn the approval of your employees.

It is not easy to put these words into action. Your leadership style is a direct reflection of who you are as an individual. You simply cannot change this with the flick of a switch. Reaching a leadership style that inspires trust among your employees requires practice and awareness. Take the time to learn more about yourself—understand your life experiences, and how they have shaped your leadership style. This simple action will go a long way in changing how you lead your employees.

Leadership is Influence

If leadership is influence, then influence is earned by respect. If you do not have the respect of people, you are not a leader.

  1. Leaders earn respect through integrity. Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. It connotes a deep commitment to do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances.
  2. Leaders earn respect through humility. Sincere humility is when a leader has an precise assessment of both his strengths and weaknesses, and he sees all this in the context of the greater whole. This leader is a part of something far vaster than he is. He understands that he is not the center of the universe. In addition, he is both grounded and unshackled by this knowledge. Identifying his abilities, he asks how he can contribute. Diagnosing his flaws, he asks how he can grow.
  3. 'The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader' by John Maxwell (ISBN 0785267964) Leaders earn respect through dependability. Dependability is a significant trait that every leader should exemplify. It is a main building block in developing and maintaining trust, something every leader should wish and pursue. Dependable leaders are reliable and consistent.
  4. Leaders earn respect by living by right priorities. A heart-based leader knows his priorities they know what is urgent and what is not and they create their leadership around it. Explore best practices shared services leaders should employ to meet the demands of a changing environment.
  5. Leaders earn respect through generosity. Generous leaders communicate information willingly, share credit frequently, and give of their time and expertise effortlessly. What come across is a strong work ethic, great communication skills, and a readiness and ability to collaborate. Leaders and managers who are generous produce trust, respect, and goodwill from their colleagues and employees.
  6. Leaders earn respect through spirituality. Spirituality notifies their leadership practices by providing meaning and determination to their leadership role. They perceive and describe themselves as living out sincerely held personal morals of respecting forces or a presence greater than self. These leaders choose to be virtuous leaders in business.

These six areas produce respect. We earn respect through integrity, humility, generosity, spirituality, dependability, and living by priority.

Leadership is influence, but you cannot lead without these issues. They are the basis to build respect. When you have the respect of people, people will follow you anywhere.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Small Remedies Reap Big Rewards

When is a dirty bathroom a broken window? This question could govern your success or failure. Answer that question properly—and use that answer as a guiding light—and your business could dominate its competition forever. Ignore the answer, and you will soon reprove your business to failure.

The “broken windows” philosophy was first set forth by criminologists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, deliberating on petty criminal acts like graffiti, purse snatching, or jay walking, and how they can lead to larger crimes such as murder. Something as small as a broken window sends a signal to those who pass by every day. That means more serious breaches—theft, defacement, violent crime—might be overlooked in this area.

If a window in a building is broken and left unrepaired, all other windows will soon be broken since people perceive that the owner of this building and the community around it don’t care if this window is broken: They have given up; disorder reigns here. Do as you will, because nobody cares.

Broken Windows in Business

Pay attention to every detail in leadership That same theory applies to the world of business. If the restroom is out of toilet paper, it gestures that management isn’t paying attention to the needs of its people. Perceptions are a vital part of every business, and if a retailer, service provider, or company sends signals that its approach is lackadaisical, its methods halfhearted, and its execution indifferent, the business could suffer severe—and in some cases, irreparable-losses.

When broken windows are ignored, fatal consequences can result. Small things make a huge difference. A messy reception area might lead customers to believe that the company doesn’t care about cleanliness or quality. We all bear some responsibility to stand up for what we want and have every right to expect from a company to which we give our hard-earned money. In a capitalist society, we assume that a company will do its best to fulfill the desires of its customers. If the company sees sales slipping but doesn’t have data from consumers as to what made them decrease their spending, the company will not know what to fix.

Still, businesses that don’t notice and repair their broken windows should not simply be forgiven because their consumers don’t make a fuss. Leaders are responsible to tend their own house—and the time to repair broken windows is the minute they occur.

Prevent Broken Windows

Since small things can snowball into large problems, smart owners prevent broken windows at—or before—the first sign of trouble.

In a business, the broken windows can be literal or metaphorical. Sometimes a broken window really is a broken window, and a new pane of glass needs to be installed quickly. However, most of the time, broken windows are the little details, the tiny flaws, the overlooked minutiae that signal much larger problems either already in place or about to become reality.

Companies that fail to notice and repair their broken windows suffer greatly. Those that attend to every potentially broken window win.

People want to feel that the businesses that they work for and those they buy from care about what they want. Consumers are looking for businesses that anticipate and fulfill their needs and do so in a way that makes it clear the business understands the consumers’ needs or wants and is doing its best to see them satisfied.

Broken windows indicate to the consumer that the business doesn’t care—either that it is so poorly run it can’t possibly keep up with its obligations, or that it has become so oversized and arrogant that it no longer cares about its core consumer. Either of these impressions can be deadly.

Tiny details—the smaller, the more important—can make a big difference in success or failure. A broken window can be a sloppy counter, poorly located sale item, randomly organized menu, or an employee with a bad attitude. It can be physical, like a flaking paint job, or symbolic, like a policy that requires consumers to pay for customer service.

The Broken Windows Pledge

Small Remedies Reap Big Rewards Broken windows are everywhere, except at the best businesses. I invite you to take the Broken Windows for Business Pledge. It’s a serious statement outlining the tenets of the broken windows for business theory.

  • You can pay attention to every detail.
  • You can correct any broken windows I find in my business, and you can do so immediately, with no hesitation.
  • You can screen, hire, train, and supervise my people to notice and correct broken windows as soon as possible.
  • You can treat each customer like the only customer my business has. You can be on constant vigil for signs of Broken Windows Hubris and never assume my business is invulnerable.
  • You can mystery shop my own business to discover broken windows.
  • You can make sure every customer who encounters my business is met with courtesy, efficiency, and a smile.
  • You can exceed customer expectations.
  • You can make a positive first impression and assume that every impression is a first impression.
  • You can make sure that my online and telephone customer service reps solve a customer’s problem perfectly the first time.
  • You can be obsessive and compulsive when it comes to my business.

If you live up to the promises in the pledge and make them second nature, you will discover your business—and your life—running more smoothly than ever before. You will never look at a broken window-or an unbroken one—the same way again.

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Posted in Management and Leadership Philosophy and Wisdom

How to Foresee Vision-Related Conflicts in Your Company’s Strategic Innovation Framework

How do you uphold growth and profitability in an age in which rivals quickly erode most any competitive advantage? One option is to initiate entirely new businesses.

Consider how some companies have redefined their customer, the value offered, and the delivery method—a process we call strategic innovation:

  • In 1996, General Motors formed a new business unit, OnStar, to commercialize an integrated information, safety, and communications system.
  • In 2001, Procter & Gamble launched Tremor, a new marketing service for other companies.
  • In 2003, the Walt Disney Company introduced Moviebeam, a wireless, no-hassle, in home video rental store.

How to Foresee Vision-Related Conflicts in Your Company's Strategic Innovation Framework If you follow several such innovation stories—each a tale of a new businesses (New_Company) within established and successful organization (Core_Parent_Company). You will be less interested in where the path-breaking ideas came from than how companies managed the process of going from idea to profitability. Nurturing creativity within an organization usually merits a great deal of attention, but the need for creativity is high only at the beginning of New_Company’s life. Once a business plan is in place, the need for creativity begins to decay rapidly.

An entirely new approach is needed—one that emphasizes neither the creativity that inspires New_Company’s launch nor the discipline that Core_Parent_Company demands to deliver bottom-line results.

New_Company Faces Three Distinct Challenges in Its Journey from Idea to Profitability

  • Forgetting: New_Company’s business model is invariably different from Core_Parent_Company’s model. The answers to the most fundamental business questions—Who is the customer? What value do we offer? How do we deliver it?—are intensely different. The essence of the forgetting challenge is ensuring that Core_Parent_Company’s success formula is not imported to New_Company.
  • Borrowing: New_Company’s biggest advantage over its competition is the wealth of resources and assets within Core_Parent_Company. The essence of the borrowing challenge is gaining access to these resources, and doing so in a way that does not damage Core_Parent_Company’s own commitment to excellence.
  • Learning: New_Company’s business is highly uncertain. It must methodically resolve the specific unknowns within its approach as quickly as possible, and zero in on the best possible approach. Learning requires an entirely different approach to planning.

All three challenges obviously create tensions. To forget, New_Company must be distinct from Core_Parent_Company. At the same time, to borrow, New_Company must be linked to Core_Parent_Company.

At points of interaction, stress inherently arises unswervingly because of the differences in business models, values, styles, and priorities. Learning also leads to stress, because it requires an analytical discipline—much different from the operational discipline of execution and performance.

These are the types of tensions that can be healthy for New_Company, and when a corporation achieves them well, the journey from idea to profitability is a smooth one.

But is it worth the risk? Contemplate the risk of the alternative—sticking to the knitting—a choice that inevitably leads to decay. Without growth, CEOs lose jobs, employees stagnate, organizations become stale, and competitiveness languishes. Strategic innovation, on the other hand, can deliver breakthrough growth and generate new life-cycle curves. It enables companies to stay ahead of change by creating, growing, and profiting from new business models.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Turn Knowledge Workers into Knowledge Warriors

Leaders can gain competitive advantage by giving every knowledge worker the tools they need to become knowledge warriors. The learner is positioned-and willing-to takes charge of the learning process. Leaders can capture inherent knowledge, blend it with vetted knowledge, and make it available a bit at a time, on demand as required.

The technologies are now on hand, for the strategic deployment of knowledge assets, but a new way of thinking about learning is required-a real-time system that offers an integrated blend of human and digital content to provide knowledge workers with the required new skills and knowledge daily.

Turn Knowledge Workers into Knowledge Warriors

Knowledge Warriors

Knowledge workers are victims of greatly increased demand arising from new information sources, channels, and beneficiaries because those same technologies promise them extraordinary advantage and performance support.

The enterprise needs to capture its own collective knowledge and enhance its collective awareness. The technology that powers this new model of knowing exists, but we need to use the technology differently. Traditional courses and delivery methods are making way for more robust and performance related learning strategies: not degrees, but “dynamic competencies”; not just in case, but also just in time; not mass product, but personalized, on-the-spot knowledge. The new focus is on the learner.

'How Knowledge Workers Get Things Done' by Keith Swenson (ISBN 0984976442) The difference is profound. The required knowledge solution does not exist until the learner presents himself; and the solution is “tailored” for each individual on the spot. This is the end of eLearning, as we know it. Our brief experience with eLearning has propelled us to High Performance Learning. We are positioned to crack the code.

There are three sides to the learning proposition: learner, knowledge, and means or process of gaining knowledge. Clearly the most important element is the learner-the one for whom the process of learning exists. Until recently, however, all formal education has focused on the knowledge (the subject matter expert and content), and the means of gaining knowledge. However, all that is changing. As leaders recognize that many important knowledge assets are stored in their people’s heads, their focus is shifting from the knowledge as a commodity to the learner as a key resource.

Virtual capability is now driving the creation of networks to identify, channel, and integrate a company’s collective knowledge for those who need it.

The new focus centers on human consciousness in a powerful integrated solution that is less focused on content and technology and more on the recipient.

Three Characteristics of Knowledge Warriors and Knowledge Workers

Since knowledge, rapidly changes we need to leverage it in service of performance in real time. Imagine a knowledge system with these traits:

  1. Leverage collective intelligence identifying, capturing, transparently linking the knowledge that people carry in their heads with vetted sources of knowledge, and delivering it in the right context to the right people in the right amount at the right time.
  2. Embedding carbon in the silicon combining potential human coaches/advisors with personalized learning objects within the same platform at the time they are needed.
  3. Real-time change management aligning corporate data with information from the knowledge management system and learning resources from the learning management system; and using the combined data in a dashboard that increases agility and helps management through change in real time.

Cracking the code is not about technology; it is about agility. Upgrading technology without upgrading the strategy can be an empty investment.

Quality of Knowledge Warriors and Knowledge Workers

Five Measures of Quality of Knowledge Warriors and Knowledge Workers

Five principles guide the application of technology to learning:

  1. Learning is about the learner, not the provider. “Best” generation solutions will always be simple, natural, and life supporting for the user, addressing the demands of time and context.
  2. The solution leverages both the knowledge of the learner and the knowledge of colleagues. Is the knowledge worker driving his own solution? Is the knowledge in the enterprise acquired, encoded, and available on the same platform with other learning objects?
  3. 'Rise of the Knowledge Worker' by James Cortada (ISBN 0750670584) The solution is a business solution, not an academic one. A business solution provides people with the knowledge they need for that moment. Expertise is not something that one has; it is something that one uses-the result of a creative interface of individual knowledge and supportive knowledge.
  4. The knowledge solution is a critical component of strategy and a powerful tool for achieving the vision. If your corporate “university” is behaving like a traditional university, blow it up. You need expertise and performance.
  5. The solution addresses unpredictable circumstances. The quality of such a system is proportional to its flexibility, the degree to which changing requirements can be detected and solutions made available in real time.

In separating what is useful from what is traditional, we will crack the code to discover true quality.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

CEO Jobs are Dramatically Hard: Grow Leadership Talent from Within

CEO Jobs are Dramatically Hard: Grow Leadership Talent from Within

About 40 percent of CEOs disappoint within 18 months. These probabilities, plus demands placed on leaders, have caused a recession in senior executives who want the top position (from 50 to 35 percent in the last four years). Furthermore, CEO turnover is at a five-year high.

Who will lead companies in the future? This question has caused a leadership succession and development agitation. Boards are more apprehensive about finding executive talent wherever they can.

In his book Searching for a Corporate Savior, Rakesh Khurana, professor at Harvard University, proposes that looking outside for a CEO successor is part of a growing “irrational quest for charismatic chief executives” (selection of outside CEOs has gone from 6 to 50 percent in recent years). Fearing boards may be concentrating on the qualities of presence, personality, and media appeal rather than character and competence, he gives seven guidelines for finding successors:

  1. abandon hope for a corporate savior
  2. translate company strategy into operational terms
  3. identify skills required for key activities (activity/competency mapping)
  4. assess internal candidates
  5. search for external candidates
  6. test and choose from a short-list
  7. calibrate goals, milestones, and compensation to drivers of success.

'Searching for a Corporate Savior' by Rakesh Khurana (ISBN 0691120390) Khurana supports internal development of candidates, but admits that developing home-grown talent is not the only course.

After studying 276 companies that have decent track records at growing home-grown talent, The Corporate Leadership Counsel defined seven Hallmarks of Leadership Success:

  1. a culture of development
  2. enforcing development
  3. recruiting senior executives
  4. the power of meritocracy
  5. full business exposure for rising executives
  6. a focus on leadership skills in successor identification
  7. succession management.

Companies that are great at developing future leaders invest much time in fostering a candidate pool. As managers gain the essential training, coaching, on-the-job experience, they join an internal pool of high-potential candidates. But what divides the good processes from great ones is an emphasis on self-development.

'The Hero's Farewell' by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld (ISBN 0195065832) Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, former Dean of the Yale School of Management, calls this “an unrelenting drive for self-improvement.” You spot senior talent not just from their activities, but how they attain them. When great companies search for talent, they look for certain qualities.

In his book The Hero’s Farewell, Sonnenfeld classifies executives as Monarchs, Generals, Ambassadors, and Governors. Each has distinctive exit behavior related to the manner in which they identify with the title and role of CEO. Of these, three of the four classifications cause problems for incoming CEOs.

  1. Monarchs stay on the job until they die or are overthrown
  2. Generals leave reluctantly and look for ways to return to active service
  3. Ambassadors leave gracefully but maintain active, low-key relationships in the company
  4. Governors leave and go on to serve in other areas.

Monarchs suppress internal talent development because they can’t endure contest for their roles. Generals and ambassadors often restrict with or undermine incoming CEOs. Unluckily, boards tolerate monarch, general, and ambassador behavior.

All this leads me to conclude: Work harder on growing internal talent. You can improve your odds beyond 50:50 by doing the hard, but rewarding, work of developing more leaders internally.

While companies must often look outside for talent, having an effective process for developing leaders guarantees that you will have great candidates when the time comes to add or replace executive talent.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Most Workers are Starved for Recognition

'Employee Recognition That Works' by Cindy Ventrice (ISBN 1576756017) Most workers are starved for recognition. In fact, some of your employees may be experiencing a recognition deficit.

While most managers believe that pay is the most important factor in whether employees stay or go, employees consistently rank recognition for their good work as number one. The mother lode of employee motivation and job satisfaction lies in the cycle of challenge, achievement, and recognition—the CAR motivational cycle, as first presented by Frederick Herzberg, the father of modern motivation theory. His study showed that the factors that produce job satisfaction are, in order: achievement, recognition, the work, responsibility, advancement, and growth. These factors are related to job content. Factors that may take away job satisfaction but not produce it—demotivators—are related to job culture: policy, administration, supervision, relationship with boss, work conditions, salary, relationship with peers, personal life, relationship with subordinates, status, and security, in that order.

You may be measuring what counts, and what you are measuring may be getting done, but unless you recognize and reward what is done, the productivity of your people will decline, along with your retention rates.

Most Workers are Starved for Recognition

Why Managers Don’t Recognize People

Many managers get low motivational millage out of the CAR cycle because:

  1. They subscribe to the philosophy, “If you don’t hear from me that means you’re doing a good job.” This low-energy, low maintenance management practice is popular among autocratic managers who have worked for managers who treated them this way. Many managers who use this style think: “My people are expected to do their job, and they get paid to do it.” They resist employee recognition practices, and resent employees who are governed by their feelings and who need more praise and recognition.
  2. They believe that “rewards and recognition” is the responsibility of the human resources department. Some programs have the unintended effect of letting managers off the hook in providing recognition. If managers do not “own” the practice, they may never do it.
  3. They do not spend enough time observing or measuring employee performance to know if they are achieving results in the first place. Obviously, if they do not know who the top performers are, they will be reluctant to recognize and praise anyone.
  4. They do not know how to recognize and are afraid they will do it the wrong way. If you haven’t been taught how to recognize results, and if you aren’t being recognized yourself in creative and appropriate ways, how would you know how to do it?

Two Ways to Recognize Results

Employee recognition has become a large industry, providing prizes, travel, cash, and praise. Many managers believe that only cash rewards/bonuses, raises, and promotions are effective for motivating and keeping their best performers. While money is important to all employees, it is more important to some than others are. Money can help to motivate and retain when given promptly in recognition of a specific achievement. However, the top motivator is the chance to be challenged, achieve results, and be recognized.

Informal Recognition and Rewards

Informal rewards that managers initiate to recognize and motivate certain individuals in a timely way. Here are six ways to get the most out of informal rewards:

  1. Match the reward to the person’s personal preferences—some people are more motivated by a letter of appreciation.
  2. Match the reward to the significance of the achievement—don’t overdo when recognizing people for small achievements;
  3. Give the reward as soon as possible after the achievement;
  4. Explain why the reward is given;
  5. Recognize groups and individuals within groups—recognize everyone on the team, but single out those who made the greatest contributions;
  6. Find out what your workers value as rewards—if the yearly bonus, for example, is now considered an entitlement, it no longer has the power to motivate.

To encourage specific achievements or contributions by key performers on highly valued assignments, consider the following seven rewards:

  1. Outstanding Employee Award, based on completing urgent projects, collaborating cross-functionally, generating money-saving ideas, and fostering teamwork;
  2. Productivity and Quality Awards that provide meaningful incentives or rewards;
  3. Employee Suggestion Awards that encourage employees to submit more ideas;
  4. Customer Service Awards that encourage the highest standards of service;
  5. Sales Goal Awards that reward high performance;
  6. Team Awards that reward all the members; and
  7. Attendance Awards that encourage employees to be prompt and not miss workdays and Safety Awards that recognize employees for following safety procedures and minimizing accidents.

Formal Employee Recognition and Rewards

Formal Recognition and Rewards

Formal recognition and rewards that the organization initiates to motivate all employees. A well-designed formal rewards program will help keep your most valued employees. Here are some ideas:

  1. Multilevel reward programs and point systems that are tailored to the needs of different employees and recognize a few employees in a dramatic way.
  2. Contests that run a short time, have simple rules, offer desirable prizes, and reward performance directly and promptly.
  3. Field trips, special events, and travel that provide “bragging value.”
  4. Education, personal growth, self-development, training and services that build needed skills.
  5. Advancements or promotions that add responsibility, give special assignments, or allow people to mentor younger employees or lead a cross-functional team can yield payoffs in visibility and job enrichment.
  6. Stock or ownership incentives, such as employee stock options, that motivates performance and retention.
  7. Celebrating employee anniversary dates helps to keep long-term employees.
  8. Custom benefits, health, and fitness programs that allow employees to select benefits that best fit their needs.
  9. Charities, volunteer activities, and service projects that encourage employee participation.

Relate formal rewards to organization and employee needs, ensure the reward’s fairness, and present the rewards in a timely manner. Talk up the value of the rewards, but do not oversell the program. If you are not sure what recognition to give, just ask! If you do not tailor the reward to the employee, the reward will not have the motivating effect you desire. Give them several ideas to choose from and a chance to write in their own ideas and submit their preferences.

Ask Two More Questions for Employee Preferences for Recognition

To get the desired effect from your recognition and reward efforts, ask your people two questions:

  1. For what do you want to be recognized?
  2. How would you like to receive your recognition?

'1501 Ways to Reward Employees' by Bob Nelson (ISBN 0761168788) Start recognizing your workers, not as you would like to be recognized, but as they would like to be recognized. Instead of focusing on big events, work to create a culture of appreciation.

Make acknowledgment a part of the daily routine. Become an obsessive observer. Notice what other people are doing and acknowledge their efforts.

A simple “thank you” or “awesome job”—sincerely conveyed can transform a relationship.

Grade your organization on recognizing results what can you do to improve in this area.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Marissa Mayer’s Office Hours at Google

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) For about 90 minutes a day, beginning at 4:00 pm, Mayer used to hold office hours at Google. She was a professor before she came to Google, and she kept office hours going. The much-vaunted “open office” for engineers, where bringing brownies increases a project’s chance of approval by 50%. Google’s Marissa Mayer cleared an hour and a half of her diary at the end of each day and staff could book an amount of that time by putting their name on a board in front of her office. This permitted her to supposedly fit a large number of very short meetings into a block of time where employees could come and talk to her about anything. Get-togethers which evidently emerged interesting product ideas counting Google News. A decent option perhaps than filling too much time up with the half hour/one hour blocks that managers tend to segment their calendars into, or to keeping an completely open door guidelines which might lead to excessively common interlude. Per this noteworthy anecdote from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:

Another Mayer habit that annoyed colleagues was one she picked up straight from academia. For many years at Google, Mayer insisted that if her colleagues wanted to meet with her, they had to do so during her “office hours.” Mayer would post a spreadsheet online and ask peopl~ to sign up for a five-minute window. When Mayer’s “office hours” rolled around in the afternoon, a line would start to form outside her office and spill over onto the nearby couches.

Office hours are socially-acceptable in an academic environment because the power dynamic is clear. The students are subordinate to the professor, who is usually their elder and mentor. But Mayer’s office hours were not just for her subordinates; they were also for her peers. So there, amid the associate product managers waiting to visit with Mayer to discuss their latest assignment or a class trip to Zurich, sat Google vice presidents—people who had been at the company as long as Mayer and in some cases held jobs as important as hers.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

Hierarchical is out; horizontal is in.

There’s no room today for the multiple layers, slow decision making, and dependence on leaders. Successful organizations are characterized by consultation, collaboration, and cross-functional problem-solving, decision-making, and planning.

Why are horizontal organizations so much more nimble? Extended product development cycles are replaced by rapid movement from design to market; decision-making bottlenecks are eliminated; leaders empower and delegate; and the focus is on the success of the business, not individual functions.

Horizontal Leadership Success

Leaders intent on this transition must take four actions:

  1. Horizontal Leadership Success Look into the mirror. The top team sets the tone. Before expecting others to “go horizontal,” senior managers must ask, “What are the decision-making patterns on our team?” “To what extent do we see ourselves as accountable and responsible for one another’s success and for the outcomes of our team?” “Do we depersonalize conflict and confront one another honestly and openly?” If the president is still calling the shots; if team members are constantly lobbying for resources; or if internal conflict has brought decision making to a halt-it’s time to practice what we preach.
  2. Align all your teams-beginning at the top. Raising team performance and refraining team behavior begins with alignment. Ask seven questions to determine whether or not a team is aligned: Does the team have clear goals? Are those goals aligned with the strategy? Do all team members know who is responsible for what and how they will be held accountable? Are protocols or rules of engagement agreed upon so everyone knows how decisions will be made? Are rules in place for how conflict will be managed? Are relationships between and among team members healthy and transparent? Do people assert their point of view honestly and openly and treat disagreement not as a personal attack but as a business case?
  3. Shift from commanding to influencing. In the new paradigm, the one who wins isn’t the person with the most clout, but the one who possesses the right strategic instinct, content capability, rapport, and persuasion. When Susan Fullman was director of distribution for United Airlines, she was a cross-functional player in a hierarchical context. Her success hinged on her ability to influence rather than command: “I had to sell my vision to each director. And I couldn’t do that without learning to clearly articulate my ideas, depersonalize the way I made my case, develop my powers of persuasion-and learn to listen to each person and address their concerns.”
  4. Become a player-centered leader. The horizontal organization calls for a shift in the role of the leader to a new “player-centered” model. The question becomes: How prepared are the players to handle increased authority and responsibility? As teams proliferate and decision making becomes decentralized, people must step up. Managers must know each person’s capabilities and skills and adjust his or her “style” accordingly.

'Lead with Lean' by Michael Balle (ISBN 154480844) For example, when managing an inexperienced team leader, a senior manager needs to provide a high level of direction, structure, and support; but as team leaders become more competent, the senior manager can adopt a more hands-off style. The goal should be to inspire and empower, not prescribe or direct. Provide coaching and collaboration as each player requires.

Many leaders talk about decentralization, delayering, and empowerment. But decisions continue to be made by the CEO; functional heads are still vying for resources; and further down are vacationers and victims.

Horizontal organizations are more states of mind than states of matter. It’s not as much about titles and boxes as it is about every employee showing up, every day, as an energized, strategically focused team member.

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Posted in Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology