Tag Archives: Employee Relations

Success and Influence

You can build a throne with bayonets, but you can’t sit on it for long ~Boris Yeltsin

This quote can be interpreted in many ways. For me, it refers to progress and how we measure our own success.

How we get ‘there’ is as important, if not more so, than the end result.

How do you measure success and progress? Achieving ‘Success’ and career progression through aggression, politicised behaviour, putting self-first and stepping on others to reach great heights, has a limited life expectancy. I have found the most satisfying and rewarding outcomes mostly derive from interactions with others, along with an ability and willingness to give more than take.

The opportunities to succeed often come from your efforts to support as many people as you can through:

  • Engaging thought and conversation
  • Seeking counsel and being willing to act as counsel
  • Listening genuinely with no bias
  • Understanding your own values and how they align with others

Affirming success as a direct outcome of your influence with and through others is not only more gratifying, but is of greater benefit to all. How you are judged by others depends on many things, including how you treat people and how you make them feel. Especially those who matter most to you.

Consider the key relationships in your life and how they have supported you and whether you have been supportive of them achieving their own dreams and desires. Have you reinforced and backed in an encouraging way?

Are you genuinely comfortable in that position or are you wondering how long will it be before you have to move on – or, to put it another way, what is your throne made from?

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Filed under Motivation, Values

The Positive Impact Of Connecting

I recently read an outstanding article titled ‘The Why (and How) of Employee Engagement‘. It incorporates an interview with Kevin Kruse, entrepreneur and CEO of Kru Research and co-author, along with Rudy Karsan, of We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement.

I am particularly interested in this topic as it is often one of the key differences between those in charge who are managing and those who are leading. Employee engagement is a large topic with many inputs. On a one-to-one level or team level the connections made form part of the engagement story.Employee Engagement CEO

There are many interesting points made in the article, notably the need to apply the same rigor and analysis to engagement as we would any other area of management by measuring its success, holding leaders accountable and examining employees’ motivation at work. (1) The leader who is effective in their role recognises that connection between people occurs through more than just the words used. A bond is formed that can be difficult to explain, but has many benefits, both for the people involved and the employer. I believe that we have an obligation as leaders to provide the best opportunity to develop others and the ability to align with depth in your team is a platform to work from in this process.

I found the end statement in the article most compelling: The real why of engagement is not just about company profits. It’s about what you do on a day-to-day basis to impact the health of those who report to you. It’s impacting the relationships and the families of those who report to you. I never hear this in the talk about engagement. People talk about getting a five-times-higher stock price, [and] you want to engage your people so they don’t go to the competition. Those are good reasons, but I forget those reasons when I show up at work and I have a full calendar and 100 emails and reports to do.

What’s going to touch me, what’s going to motivate me, is when I look at that direct report. I see Jane there and I see her husband and I see her kids. What I do and say on a day-to-day basis is impacting Jane and her family. That’s going to help me be engagement-oriented on a day-to-day basis. (1)

The ability to connect with others, both in and out of work is so important. This is about understanding the person as a person, not an employee. In the workplace these are often seen as the soft-skills or ‘nice to have’ attributes, but are underestimated in terms of the benefits. The process of ticking boxes so that it appears the manager is doing their job by pretending to build strong and meaningful relationships offers little value. Most people, even those who cannot define or articulate the reasons why, will usually know when a manager is genuinely connecting or is doing it to play a part.

Connecting with people provides a platform for influence, delegation, trust-building and other positive outcomes. An effective leader knows this intuitively and works hard to make sure relationships exist with meaning, even when there may not be an initial strong affiliation. A few key thoughts:

  • The connection will be different with different employees or relationships. Like any relationship, it requires work to make it effective, but a natural connection will occur between people and more readily with some more than others. This is OK – don’t overwork it – this is a natural part of being human.
  • Forcing a connection is not recommended however working through the early stages of a relationship to make sure both parties are giving it their best shot may bear fruit.
  • Work beyond first impressions – they are not always as accurate as we would like to think.
  • Learn the skill. Work from your strengths and understand the power of connecting because you have felt it. It can be quite intoxicating and like other areas of leadership, when discovered, it is something that many of us actively seek in our roles in and out of work.

Let me know what you think.

(1) The Why and How Of Employee Engagement (talentmgmt.com)

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Filed under Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership

Expectation Setting – Who Cares?

Feeling The Pressure Of Long Hours...Are Expectations Clear?!!

Does an employee have the right to clear expectations?

Or, is it the employee’s responsibility to ask if they are unclear about any aspect of their role. As leader’s should we just expect that the clarity and details will come in time – it’s not like there is an expectation of high performance on day 1..or day 10..or day…? Or, is there never an expectation of high performance? There should be!

Earlier this week I read a blog on the Leaders Beacon website (thanks Colleen Sharen) providing insight into expectation setting. It got me thinking. How well do we as leaders really set clear expectations? Do we induct our new employees effectively? Is this even on the radar of leaders or central to business planning and strategy? Do we consider business requirements, measurement and regularly review these aspects for our longer-tenured team member’s? Fair questions for leaders…not so great a reality.

Expectation setting is more than providing a broad brush-stroke of requirements as highlighted in a position description document. It is also not simply a high-level group of role requirements that form part of the probation period, if there is one. It goes well beyond that and has a direct correlation to employee engagement. It is defining a reality for that employee – with depth and meaning – based on the information included within but not exclusively from work documents, policies and position descriptions. Yet, it is more than that.

Every individual has different expectations of themselves, their leader and the employer. Each team member brings different skills, values, biases, desires and other personal traits to their role. It is the leaders job to understand the employee well enough to blend business needs with personal needs. This helps to build strong relationships, opportunity to align values and remove uncertainty that often comes from unexplained or misunderstood diversity between employees.

Clarity in expectations is not only important for each employee but clearly of benefit to the employer/business. The risk is that if expectations are not clearly set and understood, performance will suffer, morale of this employee and possibly others around them may decrease and certainly, the ability to ‘master’ their role is diminished. It is a lose-lose situation and yet not all that rare an occurrence.

Reduced discretionary effort and a limited willingness to engage beyond the bare minimum are also potential risks. Additional pressure is often felt by the employee and can be demonstrated through behaviours such as increased hours in the workplace, withdrawing from the team, irritability, sullen attitudes and other negative outcomes.

Setting each team member up for success starts before their first day. We all make judgments and these start during the recruitment and interview process – for both the employer and the potential employee. Hopefully, you have set a good standard of communication and enhanced the image of your business throughout the recruitment process. This high standard certainly must be consistently delivered from day one of employment, assisting to build employee engagement, which is of value to any leader as noted below.

  • In world-class organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 9.57:1.
  • In average organizations, the ratio of engaged to actively disengaged employees is 1.83:1.

Actively disengaged employees erode an organization’s bottom line while breaking the spirits of colleagues in the process…estimates this cost to be more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone. Beyond the significant differences engaged workgroups show in productivity, profitability, safety incidents, and absenteeism versus disengaged workgroups, we have proven that engaged organizations have 3.9 times the earnings per share (EPS) growth rate compared to organizations with lower engagement in their same industry. (1)

In any role, the employee has the right to expect a clear understanding of what is required of them. Every task, function, skillset, policy and other related expectations should be provided early in his or her tenure. This set of expectations should then form part of the regular rhythm of coaching, discussions and review.

It is never fair employment strategy nor smart leadership to expect that an employee will ‘pick up’ all they need to perform their role to a standard if that standard is never clearly established.

This includes the need to also check in and ensure clarity (for both parties), along with a willingness and ability to meet the expectations now or in the future with the proper support, development and training.

If we don’t, then we are breeding and encouraging mediocrity in our leadership standards, within our team cultures and potentially setting the bar low before your business has had a chance to excel.

Expectation setting – who cares? You should!

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Filed under Leadership, People Development