Business pressures are increasing. The amount of work is increasing and the rate of hiring is slow. Turnover is increasing and finding good people is hard. A few people get all of the work (because they are the best) and they are getting burned out. Shareholders are demanding higher returns and competition is getting tougher. Products are getting more commoditized and true differences are diminishing. This list (call it reality, whining, or bitching) can go on forever.
Despite all of this, there are three key barriers to employee productivity that will get you more. When these barriers to employee productivity are known and addressed…watch out. When others have become aware and equipped themselves to address these barriers, they not only got more productivity, but that got more employee productivity then expected. They also did not get the long term burnout effect that so many others experience. Sustainable improvements! Employee engagement and more employee productivity…wow.
The three key barriers to employee productivity include:
- Structural barriers – these include rules, controls, or procedures that no longer serve their intended purpose. They get in the way of flexibility and the exercise of sound judgment. They may be cultural norms such as “that’s the way we’ve always done things around here.”
- Inter-personal barriers – these revolve around a lack of/poor communication. They crop up when people build silos between departments, functions, and fellow employees. Removing inter-personal barriers to high performance is like pulling weeds from a garden. It takes regular and systematic attention. This can’t be left up to chance or the hit or miss of leadership, it needs a system.
- Intra-personal barriers – these are what hold people back from realizing their full potential. They exist inside an employee. Assisting employees to move beyond old habit patterns and emotional blockages that hinder their performance, their happiness, and their satisfaction with and at work. Guiding employees in setting realistic and meaningful goals with a path for achieving them is nesessary. As a result, employees work better; they work smarter; they work harder. Employee motivation is high. They gain greater employee satisfaction from their work. They experience lower stress, less anxiety, and exhibit greater joy and energy in all that they do. That is employee engagement in it’s purest sense.
These three key barriers exist everywhere, no company is immune. Now that you know the three key barriers you can begin to create your plan to address these in your own company. If you don’t…just send me your contribution to add to the whining list.
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- Sense of entitlement
- High staff turnover
- Poor time utilization
- Poor work quality
- Low productivity
- High employee and/or customer complaints
- Conflict in the workplace
- Resistance to listen or change
These are typical symptoms of unengaged employees. What can you do? What has created this situation? Is it inevitable? Does the problem lie with employees or management or is it more complicated than this?
Mistake Number One
The secret to employee engagement is not in leadership training, it is not in employee engagement training, it not in an employee satisfaction survey, it is not in seminars books or DVDs. Theory changes nothing. It is action that makes the difference.
Mistake Number Two
The secret to employee engagement is not in knowing about the diversity of workers in your organization. Knowing about Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, the Millennials, minorities, single parents, religions, cultures, political preferences, does not matter. Universalizing (stereo-typing) in this manner will lead you to wrong conclusions that will damage the ability to generate employee engagement.
Mistake Number Three
This is the single biggest mistake. The secret to engaging employees is not assuming that employees are like you. Don’t assume they have similar needs, values and would like to be treated as you would.
We are dramatically different
The reality is people are dramatically different, so different it is as if we are from different planets. What will motivate and engage one employee may demotivate or disengage another. What constitutes self-interest for one employee will not for another. These differences are present regardless of the diversity group.
As early as the fifth century BC, Hippocrates described groups of human characteristics, each cluster very different yet equally valuable in its own way. There have been many variations and developments of these fundamental groupings over the years.
So how do you Motivate and Engage Employees?
The answer is locked away in your employees, in their values, beliefs and needs. Each of us has a unique set of motivational drivers and unless a leader can align with these, it will be difficult to motivate and engage employees over the long term.
The answer lies in appealing to an employee’s self-interest. If it is not in their interest employees are not likely to want to do it, or they certainly won’t continue to do it.
To access this information you must talk to your employees and have tools to assist you in measuring the key indicators that generate employee motivation and engagement. These tools must also support you in the alignment process. Armed with the insights and tools, you can then have a framework for improving employee engagement and motivation over time. Without this framework you will fall into the biggest mistake of treating people like you want to be treated. As humans we too easily fall into this safe place.
When leaders are able to put this system in place and execute it consistently their efforts are most often rewarded with a reciprocated effort from the employees.
That is how you change your company culture…from one to many.
Need a systematic approach to unlocking the answer to Employee Engagement? Get that and FREE Employee Engagement Surveys that measure needs.
As a follow up, stay tuned for insights into the three basic personality types in the workplace – carers, doers, and thinkers. Employees will have a mixture of these motivations, which in turn explains how different employees need to be aligned with in order to engage them.
Do I pass ownership for my health to my doctor? Of course not. While the doctor is a significant resource in maintaining my health, I am responsible for my own well-being, and “I” must be responsible for making improvements. So, at work do I pass complete ownership for my morale and engagement levels onto my team leader? This happens in the ‘entitlement’ culture where employees blame others for not meeting their expectations but do little themselves.
In a review of a forum on the subject of employee satisfaction surveys, I came across evidence as to why entitlement and resent may be generated for many.
- “…we had questions in categories that then had a (project) leader to work on the responses and add solutions.”
- “you need to determine what you do with the results when you get them.”
- “…surveys if not handled properly have a tendency to become employee complaint and bitch sessions focusing on hot button areas such as salaries, reviews, benefits, etc. instead of the real reason…”
- “from the results, they launched various programs featuring awards, breakfast with the manager, movie tickets or coupons for dinner, employee of the month, giving monetary lump sum bonuses for outstanding performance, etc etc.”
Leaders/Companies that are proactive and don’t hide from workplace conflict do not wait for the results from employee satisfaction surveys to engage with employees. They encourage partnership between the led and the leaders. The result of this approach is, employees take ownership for their own engagement and morale, rather than sitting back and expecting the team leader to be solely responsible for leading.
Leadership is about individualizing not universalizing. It is responding to the specific needs of an individual rather than behaving in standard, generic ways.
Putting managers through standard leadership development programs with identical content and structure will perpetuate the notion that leadership is universal and is something imposed from above.
When leadership is viewed as a partnership it brings the team leader and the team together. Leadership across the team is developed when you help people to understand each other’s needs and develop ways to bring out the best in each other. It is in this context of joint responsibility for leading and being led that leadership across the organization grows.
…And hopefully this never happens, “I know of employees that were very critical of the company and it came back to haunt them.” Yikes.