Tag Archives: Employment

Leadership, Employee Relationships and Development

Has the role and context of leadership changed over the last few decades and if so, in what ways?

Leadership fundamentals continue to be tweaked and challenged, however ultimately the base requirements for effective leadership remain the same. The environment and cultures within which we lead continue to evolve also. Technology, systems, the global nature of work and various other changes to the modern work world all influence the inputs required and outputs gained from leadership and the capabilities most employers and employees are looking for.

I recently read with interest two articles in the July edition of the Financial Review – Boss magazine titled, ‘The New Employer-Employee Contract’ and ‘Crisis in Business Leadership’.

For most of the 20th century the compact between employers and employees was based on loyalty. That is now gone, replaced…by a transactional laissez-faire approach that serves neither party well. A workable new compact must recognise that jobs are unlikely to be permanent but should encourage lasting alliances nonetheless. The key is that both the employer and employee seek to add value to each other. Employees invest in the company’s adaptability; the company invests in employees’ employability. Three simple policies can make this new compact tangible. They are: hiring employees for explicit ‘tours of duty'; encouraging employees to build networks and expertise outside the organisation and establishing active alumni networks to maintain career-long relationships.

A recent study demonstrates the inherent risks and current state of leadership. The propensity for ‘people in charge’ to be focusing on the traditional management requirements for their roles as opposed to leadership continue to be an issue. The opportunities for smaller businesses to develop a point of difference through leadership flexibility and agility based on reduced bureaucracy and opportunity to act and react more quickly is highlighted. Additionally, there is a clear delineation in a view of the organisations ability and willingness to dedicate time, funding and energy to leadership development, depending on the level of the business an individual works within.

The verdict from the University of Sydney’s and Boss’s second survey of executives is that our workplaces also suffer a failure of leadership; at least from the perspective of senior managers.

We interviewed members of The Financial Review Business Leaders panel and 137 mid-level and senior manager completed an online survey. Those in middle management ranks are more optimistic about the way organisations are run. But a quarter of senior business executives warn that their companies are being over-managed and under-led. Just over 5 per cent think that developing good leaders is something their company takes seriously. Only 11 per cent believe their business excels at identifying future leaders, according to research.

Too much focus on management – not leadership

“We focus, as people come up through their careers, on their management ability – are they able to drive a profit or run [the business] most efficiently – rather than leadership,” Lord says. “Management skills aren’t as important because you can build the right team around you.”

The overwhelming feedback was that companies’ “management systems reward financial performance rather than leadership skills”. The clear message is for more “time and recognition” to be dedicated to developing leadership experience.

Results and data from the survey also found:

1 Comment

Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership

Ownership of Your Employment Status

What is is about perception and reality that influences what we see, what we think and our subsequent choices?

This question can be applied to many aspects of life, including job security, employability and self-awareness. We do not always see things clearly. Assumptions, partial facts, bias and other traits can add value to decision-making however can also skew and negatively impact our choices. The things that motivate an individual do change over time. Circumstance, educational opportunities and advancement of knowledge, personal situation, economic environment and other factors are taken into account when weighing up the options between seeking or taking on a new role and remaining with their current employer.

Many of these aspects are intrinsic, driven by the person from within and others are extrinsic, influenced by external factors. It is the intrinsically driven motivations, beliefs, attitudes and choices that we all have control over. But, they are different for each of us. Keeping a ‘real’ attitude and preparing for the future based on fact, not assumptions helps if the situation arises that a job change is required, no matter the incentive or reason.

There’s a disconnect between managers and employees about why people want jobs

CoachStation: Creating A Vision For The Future

Leaders remain one of the greatest impacts on the level of comfort employees have within an organisation. The leader is often the face of the business, providing opportunities and relationships that either grow or hinder the perspective of employees. Clarity regarding what each employee values the most is one way to build this relationship and related elements such as trust, accountability, role structure and advancement.

Bosses think people are attracted to new jobs primarily for career advancement but over the past two years money in the bank has become the biggest motivator for people to change employers. Five years of financial shock, redundancies, business collapses and frightening headlines have taken their toll and Australian workers now just want to pay down debt and find a haven to ride out the storm. Opportunities for paid time off, bonuses and flexibility have been pushed aside for a preference for large base pay.

According to the Towers Watson Global Workforce study 2012, the top global “attraction drivers” (or what encourages people to work for an organisation) are, in order of importance:

  1. Base pay
  2. Job security
  3. Career advancement
  4. The convenience of location
  5. Career development

What employers think they are is:

  1. Career advancement
  2. Base pay
  3. Challenging work
  4. Job security
  5. An organisation’s reputation as a great place to work. (1)

The above data reproduced from a recent BRW magazine has some merit, however is not the whole story and neither does it apply the same way to everyone. Additionally, the picture presented in the article has not always been the case. It was only a short while ago that many of our Gen Y employees were unaware of what it was like to work during a time where job cuts and redundancies were frequent; roles of choice were difficult to find; and it was predominantly an employer’s job market.

I have several family members and friends who are working through their employment options right now. Each person and situation is different. Each person has their own beliefs and needs and are at various stages of acceptance of their situation, financial requirements and employability. Being clear about what you want from life, including as an employee, helps an individual make appropriate decisions based on want, values and need and not simply situation and opportunity. Even when current roles appear stable, understanding of yourself and focusing energies on the next step or options is a worthwhile exercise. Seeking a coach and working through this detail can be valuable.

Knowing what you want and how it fits into the real labour market is important

This may not be a clearly defined promotion or future role defined by a position or title, but may include features, traits and expectations that a role should include to be of interest.

None of us know what the future holds, but being prepared for what could be, whilst balancing the needs of ‘now’ is a sensible approach. Where does this sit with you?

(1)   Business Review Weekly: Issue August 23-29, 2012

2 Comments

Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership, Motivation

The Current Challenge Of Leadership

CoachStation: Building Leadership, Talent and EQ

People-oriented issues are the biggest factors impacting business success in 2012.

A recent report by the business group, SixSeconds, titled The 2012 Workplace Issues Report: Insights On The People Side of Performance seeks to identify the key challenges in the workplace today. The report details the results of a global survey which explores top issues as well as employee attitudes and the role of emotional intelligence in solving those key issues. The findings collate 775 responses from leaders and employees worldwide, representing various levels of employment, industries and sectors. There are many interesting results and data-sets stemming from the survey, all providing depth to the importance of people-related leadership activities.

58% of survey respondents list ‘Leadership’ as the biggest ‘people-side’ issue in their organisation.

Additionally, the survey highlights key words that identify fundamental areas of concern for business. The views of the respondents were summarised in the most frequently used words collated from the verbatim comments. In order, they were:

  1. Retention
  2. Talent
  3. Leadership
  4. Communication

Fascinating results, with these trends and themes entrenched even more soundly in a few of my most recent discussions. It seems that the ability for an organisation to join the dots for their employees to the broader vision; hold onto key staff; provide effective leadership; and supply opportunities for growth and a reason to stay are as important as ever.

I regularly attend the Leadership Effectiveness Group (LEG) organised by a peer, Sonia McDonald, which seeks to bring like-minded people together to share concepts and experiences about leadership. Last week I was invited to facilitate the session where the topic was: What are your challenges as a leader?

It was a great evening, where every attendee had the opportunity to participate and provide insights based on their own experiences and industry. The following points were raised during the LEG event and may be of value and assistance to others, as we found that the vast majority of issues and challenges were not industry-specific. Core themes included:

  • The high need for all employees to be self-aware and understand the impact they can and do have on other employees and clients.
  • The requirement to align personal needs with business needs – leaders must understand the link between the ‘work you’ and the ‘external you’, if it exists.
  • The benefits and additional challenges that derive from modern technology and the links to Social media – it is important to understand the risks and rewards of Social Media.
  • Flexibility is important, although there is an acknowledgment that measuring effectiveness and efficiency contribute to the ability to remain flexible.
  • Business is not only about the bottom-line.
  • A clear line must be drawn between friendship, leadership, standards and expectations. This is a challenge where friendship is often confused with connectedness.
  • Being able to differentiate between technical and adaptive challenges. Adaptive challenges are those where there is no known way or method to solve the issue – you are on the edge of competence. Technical challenges are those that can be solved through existing knowledge, skills, background etc.
  • The prominence of capable technical employees being promoted into leadership roles without the proper training, support and development – leadership competence is assumed.
  • Understanding individual personalities and work styles – related to the ability to effectively influence others.

…and the final word from the LEG discussion belongs to Bill, who left us with an excellent point regarding ‘soft-skills’.

He proposed that the name in itself is a bit misleading as the so called ‘soft-skills’ are actually ‘hard-skills’ in reality.

One of the more compelling results in the SixSeconds survey was seen in the accumulated responses to the question: Of the important issues your organization is facing, what percentage are tied to people / relationships and what percentage are tied to financial / technical issues?

66% of these important issues are ‘People / Relational based, with the remaining 34% being ‘Financial / Technical”

Interestingly, by the end of the LEG evening it was evident that a few core themes stood out which were very consistent with those expressed in the survey. Developing soft-skills (or ‘hard skills’) requires effort, focus and self-awareness amongst other elements. Is this why the leadership skills that fall under this category are often the ones that are least practiced and improved. Is it fear? If  a leader asks the question of his or her team, they may not like nor be willing to acknowledge the answer. So is there a view for some leaders, based on fear, that it is best to not ask in the first place?

The responses to these challenging questions are different for every one of us. The importance of understanding your own needs and motivations are key to understanding how you deliver as a leader. The evidence that this remains an issue can be seen in surveys and discussions such as those highlighted. The most important element is not the data itself. That is simply an outcome.

The willingness to acknowledge and take action to develop these skills and attributes, to become a more effective leader will drive improvement in leadership effectiveness and ensure that we are seeing different survey results in years to come.

What are your major leadership challenges for the remainder of 2012 and into 2013?

I would like to thank Sonia and the members of the Leadership Effectiveness Group for their input, insights and depth of discussion last week, which has contributed to much of the content for this blog.

5 Comments

Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership

At Last We’re Engaged – Leading Your Team (Part 2)

Is employee engagement relevant in today‘s workforce?

Earlier this week I wrote the first part of this blog relating to Employee Engagement. In part two I examine some of the leadership themes, highlights and a few statistics supporting the relevance and importance of engaging employees.

CoachStation: Leadership and Employee Engagement

A leader‘s ability to consistently demonstrate and apply relational skills has a direct correlation to the level of engagement an individual may feel. Providing genuine leadership is key. There appears to be a gap between what employees state is occurring and what leaders feel they are applying in reality.

Data and surveys continually reflect the discrepancy between what leaders believe is occurring and what their team members state.

This is often reflected in frequency and quality of the levels of engagement through formal and informal communication, coaching and development opportunities.

There are many leadership traits and skills identified in various books and literature. However, a handful of values-based attributes are identified consistently towards the top of the ‘criticality-list‘ i.e. they are identified as a deal-breaker for many employees. Over the past 5 years I have conducted values assessments with over 35 people and trust is identified more often in people‘s core values than any other value. (1)

In addition to my own research and observations, it is of interest to understand the core reasons a breakdown in relationships and engagement between an employee and manager occurs. Of relevance to this discussion is the recent study that showed organisations were falling short when it came to ‘preparing‘ employees for leadership. The question of sustainable leadership was raised – if we are not preparing our leaders to be good managers then we are not creating good role models for future leaders and so the cycle (of poor management) continues.

This research shows most people leave a job because of their relationship with their immediate manager.

Confronting a boss with feedback about their behaviour and its impact was one course of action to consider, although this can be a difficult conversation. A lack of ‘trust and integrity‘ was the main reason employees would ‘fire‘ a boss. A third of respondents nominated trust as their main issue and a further 24 per cent would leave a micro-manager. Other noted negative leadership traits were, not providing development opportunities (12 per cent); not providing open and honest feedback (12 per cent); stealing credit for ideas and work (10 per cent); and not providing coaching support when needed (8 per cent). (2)

Although not a definitive list, the following traits and attributes highlight poor leadership behaviour as identified through my experiences:

  • An unwillingness or inability to delegate effectively – be willing to take on tasks yourself otherwise don‘t delegate – you don‘t want to be seen as a ‘shirker‘.
  • Inconsistent language and messages – your team members will see and take note of some of what you say and all that you do!
  • Not leading by example.
  • A need to be liked rather than respected.
  • An inability to communicate effectively – this has an alignment to making too many assumptions without ‘checking in‘.
  • A lack of self-awareness which is also matched by an unwillingness to identify and take action for one‘s own development, which regularly leads to an inability to develop others through a lack of skill to do so and avoidance based on the thought-process that ‗I am not developing myself, so how can I hold other‘s accountable for developing themselves?‘

In this context, possibly the best way to summarise the importance of accountability in personal and professional development is to review the key Principles of Leadership as itemised by the US Army. The listed attributes and skills offer a worthy checklist of several core areas to focus on to become an effective leader, whilst highlighting the link to employee engagement:

1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement – in order to know yourself, you have to understand your ‘be, know, and do’ attributes. Seeking self-improvement means continually strengthening your attributes. This can be accomplished through self-study, formal classes, reflection, and interacting with others.
2. Be technically proficient – as a leader, you must know your job and have a solid familiarity with your employees tasks.
3. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions – search for ways to guide your organization to new heights. And when things go wrong, they always do sooner or later — do not blame others. Analyze the situation, take corrective action, and move on to the next challenge.
4. Make sound & timely decisions – use good problem solving, decision making and planning tools.
5. Set the example – be a good role model for your employees. They must not only hear what they are expected to do, but also see. We must become the change we want to see – Mahatma Gandhi.
6. Know your people and look out for their well-being – know human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for your workers.
7. Keep your workers informed – know how to communicate with not only them, but also seniors and other key people.
8. Develop a sense of responsibility in your workers – help to develop good character traits that will help them carry out their professional responsibilities.
9. Ensure that tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished – communication is the key to this responsibility.
10. Train as a team – although many so called leaders call their organization, department, section, etc. a team; they are not really teams…they are just a group of people doing their jobs.
11. Use the full capabilities of your organization – by developing a team spirit, you will be able to employ your organization, department, section, etc. to its fullest capabilities. (3)

An honest self-appraisal and dedicating time and effort to developing self-awareness traits can be one of the most challenging aspects of leading people. The alternative is to assume, act in denial of circumstance, work in isolation or not build a genuine connection with your team and the individuals who form this unit.

This style of leadership will not enhance employee engagement.

The highlighted principles of leadership are as relevant today as when first introduced decades ago. It is worth reflecting on the following questions:

  • If employee engagement is so closely linked to leadership and these principles are arguably not revolutionary concepts, why is there such disparity between what leaders and employees say is actually happening in the workplace?
  • Could it be that we overemphasise how well and often we apply these principles in reality and/or underemphasise their importance?

Leadership is not easy – and neither is dealing with the many people-related issues and challenges that arise. Through managing these issues and assessing your leadership strengths and development areas regularly and taking appropriate action, your team will see that you are committed to your role and to your people.

Although not the only aspect of effective leadership, a focus on your employees and understanding what motivates each person is a solid base to work from. When aligned with an attitude to grow as a leader (not simply being a ‘manager‘) the related success, joy and fulfillment that derive from this transformation can be one of the most rewarding aspects of your work-life.

Food for thought for those in charge, as effective leaders continually review their own situation and progress and take appropriate action to ensure the perceived or real gaps are reduced or removed. This is worth considering as an employee, as a leader or your role as both. What does this mean for you?

The six most important words: “I admit I made a mistake.”
The five most important words: “You did a good job.”
The four most important words: “What is your opinion?”
The three most important words: “If you please.”
The two most important words: “Thank you,”
The one most important word: “We”
The least important word: “I”

References
1. Personal Values – One View: CoachStation
2. How To Tell If Your Boss Is A Dud: CareerOne
3. Principles of Leadership: US Army, 1983

1 Comment

Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership

At Last We’re Engaged – Leading Your Team (Part 1)

CoachStation: Leadership and Employee Engagement

Is employee engagement relevant in today‘s workforce?

I would suggest more significant than ever with the ‘war for talent‘ escalating, technology providing a seemingly endless stream of information and contact with new job opportunities being more accessible than ever.

What is employee engagement? Simply, it is how well an employee is fully involved in his or her role and the desire in meeting business interests, outcomes and goals.

Employee Engagement is the extent to which employee commitment, both emotional and intellectual, exists relative to accomplishing the work, mission, and vision of the organisation. Engagement can be seen as a heightened level of ownership where each employee wants to do whatever they can for the benefit of their internal and external customers, and for the success of the organization as a whole…Thus engagement is distinctively different from employee satisfaction, motivation and organisational culture. (1)

Although employee engagement has strong alignment to emotional connection and the level of commitment an employee applies to their work setting, clearly there are other variables and contributors. Whilst acknowledging the myriad influences, the key focus of this blog is the alignment between leadership and employee engagement.

Is there a link between effective leadership and employee engagement? Evidence supporting this theme is provided through various surveys and related commentaries, with results displaying a high proportion of employees leave their role primarily due to their relationship with their immediate leader and/or the broader leadership team.

An organization’s senior leadership team has a significant impact on its employees‘ overall opinions of the company and engagement levels, which have been linked to both earnings per share and total shareholder return.

A strong organizational leadership team has a significant impact on its employees’ engagement levels. Employee engagement is the extent to which employees are motivated to contribute to organizational success, and are willing to apply discretionary effort to accomplishing tasks important to the achievement of organizational goals. Engaged employees favorably rate their pride in their organization, willingness to recommend it as a place to work and their overall job satisfaction. Additionally, employees with positive opinions of their leadership team state a higher intention to stay with the organization versus those who are dissatisfied. Those who favorably rate their leadership teams are also much more likely to have confidence in the organization’s future and feel that they have a promising future with the company. (2)

An ability for an employee to relate to and understand their ‘place‘ within the workplace and sustaining a connection with the business to a level that an employee is willing to provide heightened discretionary effort above the base, are both relevant. In contrast, a disengaged employee can be extremely damaging to the business by reducing the morale and engagement of those they work with.

Supporting this concept, workplace management consultant, Tony Wilson claims that, Ninety per cent of employees who resign are leaving because of poor managers, not their job… when an employee resigns, many managers point the finger at reasons beyond their immediate control. In most cases they should point it straight at themselves. Most managers spend too much time on operations, systems, strategy, products and services. While these are important pieces in the performance puzzle, they spend relatively little time developing their people – their greatest competitive advantage. (3)

Employee engagement is neither static nor linear. As is the case when dealing with most people-based situations, engagement can and does fluctuate, depending on current situations and assumed future circumstance – and it is absolutely related to what has happened in the past, as understood and perceived by each individual.

An employee who is fully engaged today will not necessarily be in a year‘s time, or in a month for that matter.

Employee engagement can never be taken for granted. As a leader it is imperative CoachStation: What Should Leaders Do with Their Greatest Asset?that engagement levels of each person are assessed and reviewed regularly, along with that of the team as a whole and aligned with development plans and coaching sessions.

Positive morale, team-spirit, enhanced commitment and other elements have input into and are an output of strong employee engagement. However a key hypothesised advantage for any business is the link with improved financial results. Employee engagement is also a leading indicator of financial performance. The world’s top-performing organizations understand that employee engagement is a force that drives performance outcomes. In the best organizations, engagement is more than a human resources initiative — it is a strategic foundation for the way they do business. Research by Gallup and others shows that engaged employees are more productive. They are more profitable, more customer-focused, safer, and more likely to withstand temptations to leave. The best-performing companies know that an employee engagement improvement strategy linked to the achievement of corporate goals will help them win in the marketplace. (4)

Many articles and blogs debate the link between engagement and financial performance, however my experience has shown that an engaged employee makes the choice to provide more input and related outputs as a result of their level of engagement. In a broader sense, profitability is not only a financial measurement in the business-world, but is also identified with benefits such as personal fulfillment, self-esteem and contribution to society. In the business environment at the very least reduced turnover/attrition costs can be one positive financial gain. There is also a level of contribution and a ‘halo‘ effect on those who work with the engaged employee, with higher rates of sharing, peer-training / coaching and overall contribution to not only the individual‘s outputs but that of the team.

This leads to the point that application, credibility and skills of leaders are also paramount. A recent survey in Australia found that 40% of employees describe the management skills of the person they report to as average or below. The analysis underlined that there is a perception gap between how managers rate their own skills and how employees rate the skills of their manager, with 38% of managers stating they consistently lead by example, however only 20% of employees agree. In addition, 41% of managers say they consistently show interest in their staffs problems, however only 23% of employees agree. (5)

The ultimate situation occurs when a primarily engaged team works so well together that they ‘punch above their weight‘, where for example, a team of six operates like a team of seven or eight in terms of comparative contribution. On the contrary a disengaged employee (or team) displays obvious signs regarding both inputs (contribution) and outputs, which are quite clearly reduced compared to others contribution or how that employee may have been engaged previously.

So, if employee engagement is so important for a business and its employees, what is it that makes an employee stay in their role as opposed to seeking other opportunities? As mentioned earlier, an employee‘s relationship and connection with their immediate manager is critical. Emotional Intelligence, relationship-building skills and the ability to build a connection across many personalities, cultures, values and individual needs is essential to effective leadership.

Simply talking about these traits and skills is not enough.

What have been your experiences with companies you have worked for or with? Does engaging your team and employees really matter?

References
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employee_engagement

2. Does an Organization‘s Leadership Really Affect Employee Satisfaction?  Kenexa research Institute accessed via: business.salary.com

3. Working With, Not For The Boss: CareerOne

4. Employee Engagement: A Leading Indicator of Financial Performance

5. Bad Managers Adding To Skills Shortage: CareerOne

6 Comments

Filed under Employee Engagement, Leadership

11 Key Leadership and Customer Experience Mantras

CoachStation: Leadership & Customer Experience

This week I am attending the IQPC Customer Experience Management Conference in Sydney. I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a guest speaker during the Focus Day on Monday and presented on the subject of ‘Building Customer Experience Frameworks From The Inside Out’.

The comments and quotes highlight some of my key themes and concepts that I feel are most important when developing a Customer Experience philosophy and strategy:

  1. Unless your business sees Customer Experience as a culture, not a tool, then your customers will feel the pain of what is not being provided by your customer-facing employees.
  2. Leaders should create a culture of employee engagement, empowerment and buy-in that ensures your customers benefit. When we get our leadership mantra right…our employees care about their roles and our customers ‘feel’ the difference.
  3. The so-called soft-skills that differentiate management from leadership are most commonly the key to driving the change in our employees that we are looking for. Leadership is not a tick-the-box exercise. Effective leadership, relationship-building, coaching, connecting, understanding employee motivations, empowerment are all possible – but they take considerable strategy, effort and application.
  4. Foundation values such as empowerment and employee satisfaction cannot be given to an individual but creating an environment that has a higher likelihood towards meeting these needs is possible.
  5. Assumptions are regularly made regarding leaders capability to enact change and employees willingness to make it stick. It is a mistake to assume that employees can and will automatically apply change just because they are asked to.
  6. Businesses exist primarily to provide a product or service that ultimately maximises profit. We, as leaders and business owners have an obligation to our employees greater than simply using them as tools to increase profit.
  7. Employee engagement, buy-in, effective leadership and an ability to coach can be the difference between a transactional, short-term outcome and real, sustained transformational change.
  8. There is a gap between intent and behaviour when it comes to leadership, development, employee engagement, empowerment and related activities in many organisations.
  9. In my experience too often a business runs a workshop, sends an employee to a training session or takes some other well-intentioned step to rectify a perceived or real gap. In itself, attendance at a session such as this will make little difference in behaviour or output for most people. People generally do not have the ability to interpret all of this information and make meaningful change. An employee may also not be working in a culture that reinforces or drives change as a result of this ‘new knowledge’. Post-training follow up and reinforcement through coaching are key.
  10. A bottom-up approach for providing a great customer experience only takes you so far. A genuinely effective customer experience approach requires a top-down strategy based on broad and extensive cultural change.
  11. Leaders often focus on the tangible process, systems and technology aspects of business. The challenge is to ensure we provide more than a cursory input into our employees and the link between engagement and customer service.

…and the presentation was sealed by elements from Ken Blanchard’s recent blog, worth repeating:

It all starts with the leaders of the organization creating a motivating environment for their people to work in. When that happens, it’s no surprise when the workers go out of their way to serve their customers…and the good word gets around. The organization’s best salespeople are the customers they’re already serving. The end result of all of this good news is that the organization becomes sound financially.

So often we think business is all about making money and that customers are the most important thing. But if you don’t treat your employees well and give them a reason to come to work, they aren’t going to be motivated to give excellent service to your customers, and customers who aren’t treated well have lots of other places they can go.

Think of your organization as a stagecoach. Upper management might be the drivers of the stagecoach, but your people are the horses—the ones who create the forward movement. If the leaders get knocked out of the stagecoach, it keeps moving. But if something happens to the horses, everything comes to a screeching halt. So serve and help each other, and then reach out to your customers with the enthusiasm and desire and fabulous service that will make them raving fans…

Don’t forget that without your people, you’re nothing.

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership, People Development, Strategy

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!

3 Comments

Filed under Leadership, People Development