Employee Motivation

Hold those employees accountable, not me

Why is it employees want consequences placed on others that they wouldn’t place on themselves?

It is very typical that people ask me what my opinion is about certain real-life and hypothetical situations in order to extract my opinion.  The other day I was conducting a business briefing and was asked how I would respond to a real situation that my questioner Mark experienced. Continue reading

Improving Employee Engagement Reduces Work Stress

Stress has been cited as the real main reason for employees being absent from work and the lack of employee engagement is the key factor behind this huge problem. How big you ask? Research from the Mental Health Foundation found that 60 percent of those who stated work as the source of their stress said that support was not forthcoming from bosses. In another survey, 75 percent said that someone at work is making them miserable. Many organizations today are seriously hampered by high rates of absenteeism and a large percentage of workers with FMLA claims due to various types of stress both realized and hidden.  

11 Million Lost Working Days a Year  Continue reading

Are you Working for a Bunch of Hypocrites?

For years, I have listened to company owners lament: “If only we could get all our employees to act like owners.” To which I have replied, “But they are not owners, so how could you expect them to act like owners, unless you favor hypocrisy. Is that what you want…a company of hypocrites?

Unless your organization is willing to set up a meaningful ESOP, stop bellyaching about the fact that your employees don’t act with the same ownership mindset that you do.” That’s my usual diatribe. After it settles down, I continue with a bit of explanation. Although (in most cases) employees are not owners of the company, what they are owners of are: their own lives, their own careers, their contributions to the quality and quantity of work they produce, and the degree of joy and satisfaction they gain from their work. Continue reading

How NOT “Holding” Employees Accountable Improves Performance

What’s wrong with holding employees accountable? Accountability is a good thing. Isn’t it?

At the very least, it sure is a popular word in leadership circles. Next time you’re around a gathering of leaders, listen to the conversation for a while and you are sure to hear the question…. “What one thing do you wish you could do better?” And the most common answer you’ll hear is: “How can I do a better job at holding employees accountable for results?

You want this too, correct? I used to want to do the same thing. Eventually, though, I came to realize that this leadership thing is backwards. I had been thinking that the subject here was accountability. But look at the question again… “How can I do a better job at holding employees accountable for results? Continue reading

How to Attack 3 Barriers to Increasing Employee Productivity

Getting more out of less is a constant in business life.

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.

Need a Plan? Get a Plan and FREE Employee Engagement Surveys that measure leadership, and assist in removing barriers to increased employee productivity.

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.

The Secret to Employee Engagement: Avoid The Top 3 Mistakes

Does your organization suffer any of these?

  • Absenteeism
  • 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.

GenY Doesn’t Want to Work in Your Call Center Shows Study

Sodexo Motivation Solutions, in the UK, released the results of its new survey highlighting Generation Y’s (employees aged 16 to 28) perceptions of working. The survey finds that more than half of Generation Y employees are looking to leave their jobs within a year.

While this study was conducted in the UK, the US and Canadian call center industry, are closely aligned with call center practices in the UK.  Therefore, assumptions that these results are indicative of US and Canadian call center industry employee engagement and call center candidate sentiment are highly likely.

The findings identify a negative perception of call centers with a dismal 5% of this generation regarding working for a call center as exciting, while 55% consider it in a negative to work in a call center. An embarrassing, 1 in 3 of those surveyed, who are currently seeking work, would rather claim unemployment benefits than work in a call center.

Iain McMath, managing director of Sodexo Motivation Solutions said: “What this survey shows is that much more needs to be done to engage these Generation Y employees.”

McMath continues, “Although Generation Y presents its own set of challenges and has different priorities in the workplace than older generations, it is undeniable that these employees are vital to the call center industry. They are quick to adapt, hard-working, creative and not afraid of a challenge. They will require careful management and motivation in order to get the best out of them and retain them for any length of time.”

These findings represent a human capital crisis in a population of call center employees that easily embrace and adapt to the increasing technology complexities in call centers.  This group, if alienated and lost would be devastating for companies trying to compete.  Call center leadership that takes actions to change the status quo leadership practices of call centers stand to gain significant competitive advantages over their traditional call center leadership counterparts.

Learning about the nuances of this generational category of the workforce, up to now, is much maligned in theory-based and anecdotal methods that have not delivered long-term sustainable benefit. This group requires a deep connection and understanding at a personal level.

To get greater insights into how to connect with this group and others, insights are available in the complimentary eBook 7 Keys to Call Center Employee Engagement. Stopping the chronic low morale and high turnover in call centers is not possible if you choose to do what everyone else does.

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