employee development

Why Leadership May Be Bad for Employee Engagement

Money Wasted on Leadership Development Leadership is complex. Do you suspect this is why Billions of dollars globally are spent each year on leadership development? 

A Big Waste of Money

Despite the big investments in leadership development, many organizations continue to experience conflict, mistrust, resistance, low morale and de-motivation – signs that leadership has no impact on the organization … either the leadership style is inappropriate or people are not willing to engage with it.

Theory Changes Nada

We all know theory changes nothing (even if you spend Billions more). It’s action that makes the difference. Action occurs when you can apply methods that enable leadership to be viewed as a partnership between the leader and the led. When employees are willing to engage and take ownership for being led rather than sitting back and expecting the team leader to be solely responsible for leading the results are phenomenal.

Joint Responsibility Continue reading

Here’s a 150-year old Lesson in Employee Engagement Training

An innovation in the retail industry that began in 1878 holds lessons for leaders of today. If you are a leader in any type of organization today and want to improve employee engagement, you can learn from a revolutionary, but little known chapter in American retailing history.

Next time you go to the mall or to a grocery store, look closely to spot an innovation that is so common, you probably take it for granted. And you can thank F. W. Woolworth for it. You see, shortly after Frank opened the first Woolworth’s five-and-dime store in 1878 , he did something that store owners had not done before….

Touch it, feel it, buy it Continue reading

3 Key Leadership Development tips for New Managers

Congratulations! You’ve been promoted!

Things are different now, aren’t they? If you are like most newly promoted managers I’ve ever talked with, you’re in a state of shock from all the things that are different. That’s okay. You’ll adjust. Here are 3 tips to help you cope.

1. Leverage yourself. Especially, leverage your time, your energy, and your talent. Realize that your job is no longer to do the work; it is to lead others who do the work. Chances are, you were really, really good at what you did before you were promoted. In fact, that’s partly why you were promoted. You may be tempted, therefore, to “help” your people by doing their work the way you know how to do it so well. Don’t go there. It’s no longer your job to do the work, employee development is. It doesn’t matter if those for whom you are now responsible are not as competent as you were. Don’t do their work for them. You’ll never leverage yourself that way. Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say you now have 10 direct reports. By your estimate, they are on average only half as good as you were when you did that job. Ten people, each at half of your competence, can still produce 5 times as much output as you could do alone. If you did the work of one of them, the group’s productivity would increase to 5.5 times what you could do alone. But, that’s where your employee productivity gains stop. if you will concentrate instead on leadership, motivating them, teaching them, directing them, there is where you’ll find leverage. In a short while, let’s suppose that each employee on your team can now, on average, perform the work 80% as well as you could when you did that job. Well, now you’ve increased your effectiveness 8 times. You’ve gone from 5x to 8x. That’s what I mean by leverage.

2. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Learn from others who have gone before you. Leadership is a much studied science and art. Last time I looked, there were over 112,000 books on leadership available through Amazon.com alone! Unfortunately, many of those are not backed with tools and techniques to implement what they reveal. This frustration was why the Beyond Morale Online Employee Engagement System was created. The program has been developed over 30 years of science, leadership training and coaching. Others have experienced a fast track to effective leadership using the program.

3. Ask for help. You don’t have to be a know-it-all. In fact, know-it-alls are the type of new managers who are most likely to fall into the temptation of #1 above. You can ask for help in 3 “directions” so to speak—up, down, and sideways.

  • Ask your team. Sure, you know what the job is like; you were just recently doing it. But, be honest with yourself, aren’t there a lot of ideas you kept to yourself simply because not one “above” you cared enough to ask? You can be different.
  • Ask your peers. Spend time with others who hold the sort of leadership position you now have. They’ve faced many of the same pressures, challenges, and perplexities that you now face.
  • Ask your boss. Your boss’s job is to help you succeed. Your boss’s goal is to gain leverage, too.

Keeping these 3 simple tips in mind will go a long way to making your transition to manager an easier and more enjoyable one than you can imagine. Leverage yourself. Don’t reinvent the wheel. And ask for help. Good luck!

News here: FREE Employee Engagement Surveys that measure leadership

How to Guide on Employee Feedback Best Practices

 

Your Open Door Policy was Slammed in My Face

Go ahead and admit it, you would much rather avoid giving feedback, than to give it. Is this because when you give feedback you are investing in a relationship and the more significant the relationship the more you have to lose if the feedback goes wrong? Who wants take that risk. Like with many other things that lead to success, your skills are critical. Unskilled feedback (no matter how well intentioned) can severely damage a relationship.     

Poorly given feedback is counter-productive. It undermines an employee’s confidence and even alienates them. Tip: Training employees and leadership in receiving feedback is just as important as giving feedback if you want an open culture. So are you slamming the door on feedback because of poor employee development practices?     

Probably no surprise to you, but research indicates that senior employees are less open to feedback. They are successful; life has taught them a lot of lessons – they don’t need to be told and have little to learn (so they think).     

Managers are often seen as unapproachable. Their effectiveness is reduced if employees are hesitant about providing feedback to them. They have restricted information on which to base their impressions and make decisions.     

Organizations that are not open, or do not encourage continuous two-way feedback to inform their decisions and actions continuously underperform their more open competitors. For them employees become secretive and form cliques where they feel they can talk freely – most probably complaining about a lack of openness in the organization!     

What is “Feedback” Anyway

Here is one fundamental mistake that is made. Feedback is about sharing your reactions to another person’s ideas, feelings or behavior. It is not about assigning blame, criticism or passing judgement. Feedback is a way of letting someone know to what extent he or she is furthering the objectives of the business. It’s about people and you. It is a conversation about your needs whilst respecting the needs of the other person. This leads to problem solving on both sets of needs. Feedback is most productive as a two-way communication.     

Feedback is probably the most powerful, the most under-used and most ill-used management tool.     

Isn’t it Just a Waste of Time?

Without feedback people are ‘blind’. They are working on their own assumptions of how they are performing to meet the business’ needs and how they are impacting others. Feedback enhances employee’s effectiveness. Conducted properly, feedback ‘fine tunes’ performance and strengthens relationships.     

In organizations where feedback is uncommon, communication flows from the top to the bottom with employees feeling devalued, resistant and demoralized resulting in their disengagement and under performance.     

For many employees, feedback is the single most important element in building and sustaining their motivation and engagement.     

In a business culture where openness is valued, feedback will be a regular occurrence – i.e. feedback upwards, downwards and sideways. Employees will engage in frank conversations about real work and relationship issues. In organizations where this feedback is welcomed and used to create win-win results, openness becomes the norm; employees feel more motivated, engaged and wanting to contribute.     

Key Feedback indicators and behaviors

Organizations that have open environments focus on some specific indicators and display the associated behaviors shown in the table below.

Key Indicators Associated Behaviors
Feedback to my managers is encouraged. Managers hold meetings to seek feedback on performance;Managers thank employees for providing feedback;Managers do not become defensive or aggressive when receiving feedback;Managers act on valid feedback.
I receive regular constructive feedback on my performance. I meet with my manager frequently to discuss my performance;My manager only provides feedback on my performance, not on my personality;My manager’s feedback encourages and helps improve my performance;My manager is open and honest when giving feedback.
I feel free to give feedback to my managers and colleagues. Managers and colleagues recognize the importance of feedback;Managers and colleagues are receptive to feedback;Managers and colleagues listen attentively to my feedback;Managers and colleagues thank me for providing feedback.
I feel able to ask for feedback from my managers and colleagues. My manager encourages me to ask for feedback from my colleagues;Managers and colleagues are receptive to my requests for feedback;I feel comfortable asking managers and colleagues for feedback;I feel everyone benefits from an open and honest exchange of feedback.

Tips to Improving Feedback Performance

Here are some suggestions for improving the quality and frequency of feedback:     

  • Be approachable and have time for people’s issues;
  • Ask your managers and colleagues for feedback;

1.  “How much do you feel I understand you?”     

2.  “How much do you feel I meet your needs?”     

3.  “How much do you feel I am getting it right for you?”     

  • Show you value this feedback by problem-solving on the issues rather than attempt to justify, blame or criticize;
  • At times it might be useful to ask for feedback on how you gave or received the feedback;
  • Incorporate a feedback session into meetings;
  • Develop your skills for giving feedback;
  • Develop your skills for receiving feedback;
  • Invite a third party to coach or observe a one-to-one feedback session;
  • Involve employees in developing action plans for creating the no whining culture
  • When there is a need to discuss poor work, do this in private and follow the guidelines for giving feedback
  • Make feedback a ”Key Performance Indicator” for managers and track this (available in the Beyond Morale system);
  • Invite specialists to work with the organization to specifically improve the quality and frequency of feedback;
  • Score yourself on the associated behaviors linked to the Key Performance Indicator of Feedback, and share your answers with relevant colleagues;
  • Score yourself on how well you are doing the suggestions above and use the results to decide on an agenda for action.

Focus on the items above and that open door just might not be slammed in your face in the future.

360 degree Feedback: Development or Appraisal…Avoid Bad Approach

360-degree feedback has, over the past 30 years, become the norm in many organizations.  It is sometimes called multi-rater feedback, or multi-source assessment (MSA). By whatever name it is known, it has become de rigueur in American business. Some estimates are that as many as 90% of the Fortune 500 make use of 360-degree feedback and as many as half of all American businesses do the same.

If you are using or considering the use of 360 degree feedback in your company for leadership development or employee appraisal purposes, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself is: which is most important, to use 360 degree feedback for employee development or for employee appraisal?

Before you answer, let me offer one cautionary note. Organizations fail when they attempt to use the 360 degree feedback tool for both employee development and employee appraisal purposes. It has been found to be virtually impossible to effectively coach and evaluate a person at the same time. Evaluation will override development every time.

Why was it created?

In the beginning, the 360 degree assessment was seen to be a development tool. It was not conceived to be used as a tool for performance appraisal. This distinction, in fact, remains a cornerstone of the philosophy of the 360 degree feedback creators. As the use of 360s has grown, however, it has come to be used by some organizations for evaluation, not just for development. This has muddied the water.

So why is it used for employee appraisals?

There are several reasons generally given for using 360s for appraisal purposes.  The strongest reason is to augment traditional top-down performance appraisals with a different perspective. This, though, strikes me as a more of an admission of the weaknesses of traditional performance appraisals than as an argument in favor of using 360s for the same purpose. We shouldn’t try to fix something that’s broken by importing a tool that was developed for an entirely different purpose.

If the only end you have in mind is to know how your employees are doing today, then go ahead and use 360 feedback for evaluation. Here is another cautionary note. You can get away with this once, before mis-trust sets in.

Featured in Alltop
Employee Engagement Pocket Cards
7 Keys to Employee Engagement
Why 360s Don’t Work
Averting the Leadership Crisis