On Leadership, Commitment and Employee Engagement

Engaged Employees

A frequent complaint from supervisors is that an employee or team member should be doing something…but that they are not. And they state that when an employee is doing what they should be doing…it is being done incorrectly.

This is a source of great frustration to many supervisors!

Also, the managers wrestle with getting the supervisors to act like better leaders and deal effectively with their “errant” employees.

The Missing Ingredient

Organizations today are missing a critical ingredient important for their business success. The challenge is that they cannot purchase this important commodity. In fact, trying to acquire it with money and incentives usually has the opposite effect.

What is this cherished resource? Employee engagement; a sense of ownership.

When employees and team members feel ownership about their work, they respond with more positive motivation for the work they do. They also respond better to change and are able to make the necessary changes and successfully adapt.

The Right Partnership

Engagement and ownership are valued resources for any leader to have on their team. Organizations need employees to act as partners at work and as advocates for their employer away from work. Any business would benefit from having employees who can adapt to change.

Engaged employees understand the need for change, and do not resist changes.

This can often make the difference between success and failure for any project implementation.

Engaged employees typically:

  •  Are more receptive to new ideas
  •  Accept the need for change
  • Respond quickly to change
  • Support continuous improvement efforts
  •  Act as partners
  •  Take ownership of the industry away from work

Once the employees are fully engaged and feel ownership, organizations often see positive outcomes, including:

Increased business flexibility

·         Processes becomes changeable

·         Continuous improvement and problem prevention become the norm

Increased commitment

·         Employees can sustain positive motivation

·         Employees make positive contributions

Increased satisfaction

·         Workforce is more stable

·         Turn-over, hiring, and training costs are diminished

·         Employees are more satisfied

·         Supervisors have an easier job managing the employees

Improved business results

·         Management experiences a profitable balance sheet

3 Counter Trends

What makes it difficult to achieve the desired feelings of ownership?

Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld, in their book Re-Engage: How America’s Best Places to Work Inspire Extra Effort in Extraordinary Times write about three counter trends in today’s work environments that can make it difficult for a supervisor to build a sense of ownership:

  1. Diseconomies of Scale—the larger a company becomes, the greater the opportunity for there to be disconnects between employees.
  2. Generational Diversity—we are seeing multiple generations working together. Although there are many advantages to this diversity, without strong leadership the team can fragment and loose engagement.
  3. Uncertain, Turbulent Times—uncertainty can cause fear and frustration in the absence of effective leadership communication.

Creating the Right Environment

It becomes the supervisor’s priority as the leader to respond to these workplace challenges and create an environment where ownership can flourish. Employees are engaged and productive and add value to the organization when the supervisor can create an environment in which they feel ownership and are positively motivated.

Where motivation is lacking, value is diminished and productivity, safety, and long-term success is limited.

Employees who feel ownership are able to adapt to change. They are in a state of mind where they are always “Ready for Change.” When change is resisted, opportunities are lost and productivity, safety, and long-term success are limited as well.

 A sense of ownership is critical to motivation both at work, and away from work.  Ownership is also important for dealing with change effectively.  That is, when an organization is change ready, the business benefits from changes that are planned, and those changes that are emergent.

So how is your organization fostering better environment for employee growth and productivity? What is being done to monitor employee engagement levels? What steps can you take as a leader to foster more commitment with the people that you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Mark McCatty

Mark McCatty is Senior Consultant at Cornelius & Associates
He is a positive influence for Effective Personal and Organizational Leadership
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter |  Web | Blog

Image Sources: dgicomm.com

The Gift of Good Leadership

Gift of a Good Leader

Did you ever get coal in your stocking?

Many of us have heard the story of Saint Nicholas who dutifully makes his annual list of good and poor performing children. He knows when they are sleeping. He knows when they’re awake. He knows if they’ve been bad or good. He tracks them throughout the year, noting what they’ve done that makes them worthy or not of toys at Christmas time.

The Gift of COAL

As the story goes, Santa brings coal for the stocking of those poor performing children. Interestly, poor performing leaders bring COAL to their organizations.

Please let me define COAL that poor leaders bring:

  • C :: Confusion

  • O :: Obesity [unhealthiness]

  • A :: Apathy

  • L :: Low

Lump of CoalC:: Confusion

Without clear leadership, conflicting goals and competing priorities can create confusion. Confusion results in conflicting efforts, wasted resources, and general frustration within the organization. People are unsure of the right action to take because poor leaders give different answers to the same question.

Poor leaders are vague in their directions and lack the correct amount of control to critical tasks.

O :: Obesity:

Obese organizations are unhealthy and may eventually die. These organizations lack the leanness to survive. Obese organizations can develop negative beliefs and behaviors that can, like a cancer, eat away at the healthy part of the organization. The healthiness stems from not holding people accountable for their actions. Poor performance receives the same response as good performance. So, the good performers eventually lower their own standards or leave for healthier organizations.

A :: Apathy:

Poor leaders do little to develop commitment and motivation. Apathy and even cynicism can flourish in this environment. In what appears to be apathetic leadership there are few honest discussions. The un-discussable remains un-discussable and progress is non-existent.

Many in the organization know the problems, but few address them.

L :: Low-ness:

Poor leaders leave the organization generally very low; low in positive results, low positive levels of effort, low in skills to appropriately complete critical tasks. As a result, business goals are missed, work satisfaction is low, and the future seems uncertain. In uncertain environments the tendency is to hunker down and protect.

Growth slows to a crawl.

Good leader bring GIFTS

Good leaders bring gifts to their organizations. A good leader recognizes their contribution to the organization and they care about the people in their organization. As a result, the good leader has a positive impact on the organization and its people.

  • G :: Gain

  • I :: Inspiration

  • F :: Focus

  • T :: Teamwork

  • S :: Success

Stack of PresentsG :: Gain

The organizations accomplish goals. People feel like they are making progress on improvements and solving problems. There is a momentum to tackle the hard problems. The organization and the people see the benefit and experience the gain.

I :: Inspiration

There is a sense of “want to.” Leaders make us feel we can do more, and be more than we are. A good leader will take time with people, listen to questions, and provide support. The good leader seems to truly care about people.

F :: Focus

Good leaders provide clear, consistent communications to all stakeholders. There is no mistaking the goal and what needs to happen to achieve the goals. There’s power in the alignment effort that comes from focus. People have a clear understanding of the critical tasks that are required.

They’ve seen the gains being made and feel motivated to pursue the goals.

T :: Teamwork

Good leaders move us from “me” to “we.” There’s a connectedness between people and effective cross-functional communication comes easy. People work respectfully toward common goals. When there are difficulties, the leader will model positive behaviors by pulling people together to analyze and solve tough problems, rather than allowing people to separate themselves and talk about each other.

S :: Success

Ultimately, a leader leads to success. It’s the power of “we” that achieves great things. It is always amazing when someone can rise up and lead a group of people to accomplish together what seems unattainable.

The gift of a good leader is the shared vision, the sense of belief in the vision, and the empowerment to make the vision a reality.

What Good Leaders Do Well

What does your leadership style bring?

Each of us has a choice of how we respond to the conditions in our organization.

We can be a good leader or a poor leader. We may even choose to be no leader at all and allow bad things to happen to us and our organization without any effort to control it.

Most of us want to bear gifts to our organization. Very few desire to have ill effects on others. So, what are the things that good leaders do? There are three important attributes that good leaders have. Good leaders are obsessed with their vision, they hold people accountable, and they give the gift of feedback.

Leader’s Obsessions

In his book, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, Patrick Lencioni writes about those leader obsessions. They are to build and maintain a cohesive leadership team, create organizational clarity, over-communicate organizational clarity, and reinforce organizational clarity through human systems.

People within the organization need to clearly understand the direction and goals they should strive for, there should be a strong leadership support system to provide support and direction, and there should be positive reinforcement for positive action.

It should be easy to do right and hard to do wrong.

Inspect What You expect

Holding people accountable has come to be thought of as very negative, when, in fact, it is exactly the opposite.

Have you ever seen what driving a car with no oil in the engine does to an engine? I have a friend who’s a mechanic and he tells me that it happens more often than you might think. But how does it happen? Most times the engine blows because the owner neglected to hold the engine accountable by checking the oil level.

Without this checking, or holding accountable the engine fails, the car fails, and ultimately the owner fails to get where they want.

In much the same way, a leader will check in, or hold accountable those that they care about. This act is an act of concern. It is what they find when they check in that determines whether they take action, or just allow things to continue as before. The leader who cares about people takes the time to check on people.

The Gift of Feedback

Lastly, good leaders give the gift of feedback. It takes a true leader to care enough about a person to offer insights and suggestions. Many people act or communicate in ways they do not intend. They cause bad feelings and hurt relationships.

A good leader, when coming across this situation, will provide the benefit of feedback, they become the mirror for that individual.

Whether that individual is a peer, boss, or team member, the leader cares enough to offer an outside view. The leader does not force their point, merely share a perspective. When others see the pure spirit of the feedback they don’t respond negatively.

We love good leaders like good children love Santa, because of the gifts they bring. There is a spirit of satisfaction that comes from being around someone who cares about you enough to show you with a gift. And as the old saying goes, it isn’t the size of the gift; “it’s the thought that counts.”

What are the thoughts you have for the people you lead? What kind of leadership style do you practice? What’s the legacy you leave and the gifts your leadership style brings? What could you do tomorrow to make your leadership better than it was yesterday?

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Mark McCatty
Mark McCatty is Senior Consultant at Cornelius & Associates
He is a positive influence for Effective Personal and Organizational Leadership
Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWeb | Blog

Image Sources: ronkarr.com, funnychristmaspresents.com, 4.bp.blogspot.com

Continuous Improvement of People

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetimeLao Tzu

This saying has been around for a long time and it’s both practical and profound. The proverb is a philosophy that true leaders practice. This practice is to develop self-sufficiency were there is dependency.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

The opportunities for the practice of this philosophy go back as far as early Biblical time. In Old Testament times it was not uncommon to give yourself into servanthood if you found yourself unable to care and provide for yourself or meet your obligations. If you had obligations that you could not meet, you would voluntarily give yourself away in exchange for your unpaiddebt.

Interestingly, Old Testament law required that after 7 years your master was required to offer you a release from your willing servanthood and allow you to go free. When you left your master’s ownership you did not leave in the same condition as you came. The law required that rather than leaving empty-handed you were to be given provisions sufficient for a new start.

So, while you were under the care and provision of your master you were working on learning and developing new skills that allowed you to contribute to your master’s enterprise. The master cared for you and you added value to your master. And from the value that you created you were cared for. When you left your master, you were not as you arrived – without food,clothing, and knowledge – rather, you leave with clothing, food provisions and a newly practiced set of skills you can use to sustain yourself.

In essence, you were taught to fish, and given a box lunch to hold you over until you caught your own fish.

Applied Teaching Today

Teach a man to fish; there are opportunities for leaders even today. Leaders help people move from dependency to self-confidence and to ultimately become self-sustaining and a self-thinker. Leaders work with people to develop and hone new skills. Leaders help people understand more about how to make good decisions, and helps people find purposes that ignite passion.

The philosophy of a caring leader is to leave a place, environment, or workplace better than you found it; Continuous Improvement of People. This philosophy applies to people in the workplace. The best and most influential leaders understand and practice this philosophy. And it is actually very easy. And you might just enjoy it!

If you are a leader, where are the opportunities to help people around you develop? Do you see them, or have you never really thought about it? Here is a challenge for you: Identify an opportunity to mentor someone and to aid in their development. see if you can “teach them to fish.” You will feel glad when you do! The goal is to make improvements so that things are better after you’ve gone.

Bookmark Continuous Improvement of People

——————————————–
Mark McCatty is Senior Consultant at
Cornelius & Associates
He can be reached at m.mccatty@corneliusassoc.com

Image Sources: farm1.static.flickr.com

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Leading Our Work Environment

Learning Your Environment

My daughter recently was trained and certified for scuba diving. This experience reminded me of when I went through the process a few years before. Learning to dive requires the diver to know and understand the environmental differences and potential dangers in the new environment they are about to enter.

As a student diver I was learning to stay alive – to survive in a potentially hostile environment.

Surviving underwater requires that you properly equip yourself.  The new environment requires personal change.

Along with this change must come a new awareness of the surroundings and new, required behaviors for survival. While guiding my daughter through the diving process, I came to realize how learning to survive, being aware of your environment and setting goals for the dive is just as important in business as it is when underwater.

Enterprise Goals

Business enterprises need goals, too. Sometimes the goal is as simple as: Satisfy the customer!

Earning a profit may be an indirect goal, but it is a direct result of an enterprise’s ability to attract and retain customers with the products/services it delivers; on time and within budget. Knowledge of the enterprise’s goals and understanding success measures when goals are achieved are critical to everyone within the enterprise.

Once the enterprise’s leaders have defined the goals, employees must understand the environments the enterprise operates in. Employees will benefit by knowing the environmental differences and potential dangers [points of failure] of their work environments.

Work Environments

There are two environments that we work in:

1) Technical Environment
2) Social Environment

The technical environment is the most easily recognized. It is comprised of the equipment, materials and supplies, and tools we use to produce our product or service. The social environment is probably the most familiar, and as such, we tend to overlook its ability to impact us. The social environment is the communications between people, groups, and departments. It is the conflict resolution process. It is problem identification and solving. Social environment represents the interaction or lack thereof between people.

Healthy Environment

When these two environments are healthy and thriving the enterprise and its employees achieve the established goals. When there is misalignment in the technical environment equipment is not meeting expectations, not running properly, or is not even the right equipment. When the technical environment is not aligned, the enterprise suffers. When the materials or supplies are not to specifications, the business suffers. When the tools are incorrect or not available, the goals are negatively affected. When we do not meet our goals due to technical environment failures, the enterprise has suffered from misalignment.

The same is true for the most overlooked environment: the social environment.  When the social environment is not operating properly, i.e. is not aligned, there are critical breakdowns in communication and an employee’s ability to meet expectations. This breakdown creates negative conflict in the enterprise.

The Leader’s Role

As a consultant, I’ve seen many enterprises that are merely surviving. When referencing scuba diving, it is very stressful to be in a survival circumstance. My first solo dive was focused on surviving the dive. Amazingly, I went through sixty minutes worth of air in less than twenty minutes. Once I became qualified and skilled as a diver, I began to enjoy all the unique beauty this underwater environment had to offer. It is much more enjoyable to be comfortable and thriving in the environment instead of being focused on survival.

What every organization needs are people who are able to do their job, willing to do their job, and allowed to do their job. As enterprise leaders, we need to develop our employees and allow them to use the power they have to take the necessary actions to fulfill their purpose in the enterprise.

The bottom line is that when we miss our goal it is a sign that we are out of alignment somewhere in our work environments. It is in those critical moments that we need people with the integrity and courage to stand and openly ask, “What is happening? How can we prevent this from happening again?”

This is a leader’s role. When goals are missed, leaders will not ignore that reality. A leader will address the failure and ask the tough questions. The leader will use an approach to empower people and engage them in the improvement process. The leader knows that the solution is found in looking at the environments honestly, seeing where there is misalignment, and making the required correction. We appreciate leaders who demonstrate the courage to take on this challenging task.

How do you think about your workplace as an “environment” that people come into to work? Do you think of it as some place that you can help control so that your team can learn, grow, and prosper? Do you look at the workplace as a place that needs care so that it can help the people who work there? Are you providing the environmental leadership that will help you get better results from the people you lead? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share.

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——————————————–
Mark McCatty is Senior Consultant at
Cornelius & Associates
He can be reached at m.mccatty@corneliusassoc.com

Image Sources:slooceancurrents.com,  vancouverdivinglocker.com, lessnau.com, pnl.gov, greenbuildingelements.com, thegcla.com

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