Effective Employee Enagagement

Leadership and relationships play a key role in organizational success. Recent research on the association between employee satisfaction and job performance suggests that the single most important contributor to the feelings of employee engagement, empowerment and satisfaction is based on the relationship they have with the leaders of the organization. Employee Engagement” is not exactly a recent phenomenon. Researched from 1920s, a succession of management and behavioral thinkers  have delved deep into this subject and have added significant insight in this area. Employee Engagement is variously known as Employee ownership, Employee Motivation, Employee Involvement, Commitment, Loyalty, etc.

“As organizations globalize and become more dependent on technology in a virtual working environment, there is a greater need to connect and engage with employees to provide them with an organizational ‘identity.’ Especially in Indian culture, this becomes more relevant given the community feeling which organizations provide in our society.”In addition, sophisticated recognition systems can shift messages and goals based on an employee’s recent achievements. This allows HR leaders to utilize another layer of segmentation — the Show, Grow, Teach, Reach model, for example — for maximum performance impact.

Perceptions of stress at work are quite high with several studies suggesting 40 % to 60% of all employees rate their jobs as being stress or extremely stressful with impact on family balance and health. In a recent poll, more than 70% of workers do not think there is a healthy balance between work and family lives. More than 50% of the 1,626 were exploring new career opportunities because of the inability to manage both work and family stressors.

OLD PARADIGMS

• Job Security

• Longitudinal Career Paths

• Job/Person Fit

• Organizational Loyalty

• Career Success

• Academic Degree

• Position/Title

• Full-Time Employment

• Retirement

• Single Jobs/Careers

• Change in jobs based on fear

• Promotion tenure based

NEW PARADIGMS

• Employability   Security

• Alternate Career   Paths

• Person/Organization Fit

• Job/Task Loyalty

• Work/Family Balance

• Continuous Re-learning

• Competencies/Development

• Contract Employment

• Career Sabbaticals

• Multiple Jobs/Careers

• Change in jobs based on growth

• Promotion performance based

 

Developing a Psychologically Healthy Workplace: What Effective Employee Engagement can do?

Leadership appears to be one key contributor to the development of a psychologically healthy workplace. Leaders can directly influence morale, retention, commitment, satisfaction and perceptions of stress. A variety of approaches exist for leaders to consider employing in the development of a healthy workplace. These include:

  • Gather feedback about strengths/development areas from other senior team leaders, direct reports and internal/external stakeholders by using a multi-rater feedback instrument
  •  Conduct a senior leadership team analysis of strengths/development areas using interviews or team based multi-rater feedback tools
  • Conduct annual employee engagement surveys to better understand how leaders can change policies, procedures, processes, systems and management practices to enhance satisfaction
  •  Employ a department wide “balanced scorecard” to measure and monitor internal customer satisfaction of talent within your department
  •  Constructively and consistently manage the performance of underperforming talent
  • Create and utilize employee teams to increase participation of employees in problem solving, decision making and planning processes
  •  Analyze exit interviews for trends and develop strategies to increase retention of high potential talent
  •  Support and implement work balance and family friendly policies, procedures & programs to enhance engagement (e.g., telecommuting, child care, flex time, wellness/health promotion programs)
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Tips on Managing Difficult People

Three Ways to Deal with a Passive-Aggressive Colleague   It can be incredibly frustrating when a co-worker agrees with a plan of action, only to go off and do his own thing. This type of sabotage is all too common and can make it difficult to achieve your goals. When you have a co-worker who says one thing and does another, try this:

•Give feedback. Explain to yo…ur co-worker what you’re seeing and experiencing. Describe the impact of his behavior on you and provide suggestions for how he might change.

•Focus on work, not the person. You need to get the work done despite your peer’s style, so don’t waste time wishing he would change. Concentrate on completing the work instead.

•Ask for commitment. At the end of a meeting ask everyone (not just the troublemaker) to reiterate what they are going to do and by when. Sometimes peer pressure can keep even the most passive-aggressive person on task.
Adapted from “How to Deal With a Passive-Aggressive Peer” by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins. Keep Your Composure, or Walk Away   With offices becoming more physically and metaphorically open, the privacy of a room with a closed door can be difficult to find. More often, everyone from the CEO to the receptionist is visible to everyone else. This level of exposure can encourage transparency but can also put you on display in fragile moments when you are stressed or upset. Next time you feel like you might lose your cool (and who hasn’t had these moments?), take note of where you are. If you might be observed by others, take a deep breath or a drink of water. If that doesn’t do the trick, get outside. In these new open work spaces, it’s critical to maintain professionalism by being calm and supportive of others, and by doing your venting somewhere private. Adapted from “The No-Drama Rule of Management” by Peter Bregman. Three Tips for Resolving a Conflict with Your Coworker   Differences of opinion between coworkers can be useful and even productive. But when clashes turn ugly, conflict can be harmful to working relationships. Here are three tips for handling the next disagreement you have with a colleague:

•Identify common ground. Point out what you both agree on at the beginning of the conversation. This may be a shared goal or a set of operating rules.

•Hear your coworker out. Allow your colleague to share his opinion and explain his point of view. Don’t disagree with individual points he makes; listen to the whole story.

•Propose a solution. Use the information you gathered in the conversation to offer a resolution. This should incorporate his perspective and be different from what you originally thought. Adapted from “The Right Way to Fight” by Amy Gallo. Turn Your Competitors into Allies When a colleague’s agenda is seemingly opposed to your own, it can be tempting to demonize him. Distorting other people is a common response to conflict, but not a particularly productive one. In fact, doing so undermines your ability to exert influence. Instead of deciding that everything about a colleague you don’t get along with is hateful, get to know him better. Sit down and talk about what he cares and is concerned about. You may find that the source of your conflict is actually an area of mutual interest and rather than being enemies, you are natural allies

Tips On Meetings

Exercise Good Meeting Hygiene Meetings, meetings, and more meetings! Don’t contribute to the dread. Next time you need to gather people together to advance your project, make sure you do the following to make your meeting worthwhile:

•Make sure it’s necessary. Before sending out the invite, ask yourself whether there’s another way to move the project forward. Can you get input… via e-mail? Can you gather a sub-group to solve the current issue?

•Be clear about the objective. State the purpose of the meeting in the invite and again at the beginning of the meeting. Be sure to explain how the meeting will advance the overall project goals.

•Focus. Just because you have an hour scheduled, don’t take it. Keep the discussion centered and avoid unnecessary side conversations.
Adapted fromGuide to Project Management. Take Back 10 Minutes   A day of back-to-back meetings is exhausting and overwhelming. Running from meeting to meeting, you leave an inbox full of unanswered emails and undoubtedly start to run late to your afternoon appointments. Stop the madness by insisting on 50-minute meetings. What can be done in 60 minutes can easily be done in 50 with some focus and discipline. Defy the default in your calendar and send meeting requests that end 10 minutes before the hour. This will allow you, and everyone else, to take a quick break, check email, and restore some sanity to your day.
Adapted from”The 50-Minute Meeting” by David Silverman. Three Ways to Encourage Meeting Participation   You know the drill: A meeting is called to discuss an important issue but only the usual suspects participate. Everyone else is quiet and their opinions go unheard. Meaningful contribution is the key to meeting success. Here are three ways to get more people involved:

•Don’t dominate. This not only gives others less time to speak up but also conveys that only your ideas are important. Let at least three people speak before you  talk again.

•Be positive. Demonstrate that all ideas are valuable by restating important points. Thank people who are usually reticent for their comments.

•Ask directly. To get input from everyone, ask each person for their thoughts. Don’t do it in a confrontational way. Try, “Do you have anything to share?”
Adapted fromGuide to Making Every Meeting Matter. Two Rules for Making Global Meetings Work   With people spread across locations and time zones, global teams can struggle to run effective meetings. Distance isn’t an excuse for bad meeting etiquette though. Here are two policies that can make your far-flung team’s meeting easier:

•Share the inconvenience. It’s not fair to force a few people in Delhi to always take the call at 3am local time. Rotate your meeting time so that everyone shares the burden of an inconvenient time.

•All together or all separate. The dynamic of a meeting can be thrown off if some people can see and talk to one another offline. If one person is separated from the rest, ask everyone to call in from their desks. This means no one unduly benefits from side conversations or  facial expressions.
Adapted fromGuide to Making Every Meeting Matter. Makeover Your All Staff Meeting   When executives want to communicate important messages or engage employees, they hold town hall or all hands meetings. Gathering everyone together is meant to convey the importance of the topic and get the biggest bang for your communication buck. Yet, employees often rank these meetings as some of the least effective. Don’t give up on bringing everyone together. Instead, give your all staff meeting a makeover. Make your message resonate by explaining what’s in it for everyone. Forego the PowerPoint presentation in lieu of a more personal communication. Make the conversation two-way and engage your people in a discussion. Lastly, don’t hog the stage. Even charismatic leaders can sound like broken records. Staff often want to hear from others in leadership for a fresh perspective.
Adapted from”The Perils of the All-Employee Meeting” by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins.

Tips on Productivity

Take a Nap at Work   Research shows that the more hours you work continuously, the greater the toll on your performance. You can greatly improve your productivity by taking a short nap. Think taking a nap at work is crazy? Here are three ways to make it happen: •Schedule a time. Between 1pm and 3pm is the best time. Mark it in your calendar so you are more likely to take it. …•Find a quiet place. Close your door and put up a “do not disturb” sign. If you work in a cubicle, look for a conference room, or a local coffee shop or library. •Tune out. Turn off your technology and set an alarm for 20 or 30 minutes (longer naps can leave you hazy). Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Even if you don’t fall asleep, this relaxation will ensure you rest.
Adapted from Guide to Managing Stress. Get Things Done by Deciding When and Where Managing your workload with a to-do list can be a productive way to organize your work and keep yourself on task. But don’t let your list become a collection of everything you want to do but will never have time for. Make sure each item on your list has a time and place attached. Don’t add “write management presentation” without including the day and time slot in which you’ll do it. Consider foregoing the list and scheduling items on your calendar instead. You may still want a place to write down things you hope to get to, but be sure that each day you know what you need to accomplish and when. Adapted from “A Better Way to Manage Your To-Do List” by Peter Bregman. Know When Multitasking Works Numerous studies show that multitasking doesn’t help you get more done. In fact, it impedes productivity. But in today’s fast-paced world, it may seem impossible to only focus on one thing at a time. Here are two times when multitasking might be more effective: When information needs to flow fast. If others are waiting on you before they respond to a customer or move a critical project forward, it can be frustrating if you’re not available. Picking up the phone or responding to email — even while you’re working on something else — can be important, especially if you have information others don’t. When you’re stuck. Sometimes it can be useful to focus on a difficult task. But when you reach a roadblock, it can be equally valuable to walk away and do something else while your mind ponders the issue. When you return to the task with fresh focus, you’re more likely to be able to push through. Adapted from “In Defense of Multitasking” by David Silverman. Turn Stress into an Asset   Stress is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be damaging. When managed correctly, strain can positively impact productivity and performance. Here are three things you can do to make stress work for you: •Recognize worry for what it is. Stress is a feeling, not a sign of dysfunction. When you start to worry, realize it’s an indication that you care about something, not a cause for panic. •Focus on what you can control. Too many people feel bad about things they simply can’t change. Remember what you can affect and what you can’t. •Create a supportive network. Knowing you have somebody to turn to can help a lot. Build relationships so that you have people to rely on in times of stress.
Adapted from “Turning Stress into an Asset” by Amy Gallo. Three Steps to Make Your New Hire Productive The traditional approach to “onboarding” — sitting your new hire down with a stack of reading or a series of trainings — doesn’t do much to explain how the organization truly functions. Take these three steps to help your new hire understand how work gets done and what he can do to add immediate value: •Start early. Onboarding starts with hiring. During interviews, expose all candidates to the organization’s culture. Don’t oversell your company; be honest about who you are and how you work. •Introduce him to the right people. Identify key stakeholders that your new hire needs to know. Broker early introductions so that he can begin building relationships right away. •Get him working. This shouldn’t be a sink or swim approach. Put him on projects where he is supported by others and can start contributing right away. Adapted from “Get Immediate Value from Your New Hire” by Amy Gallo

Tips On Decision Making

Stop Making Decisions That Waste Time and Money

Many managers rely on gut instinct to make important decisions, which often leads to poor results. On the contrary, when managers insist on incorporating logic and evidence, they make better choices and their companies benefit. Here are three ways to introduce evidence-based management at your company:

•Demand evidence. Whe…never anyone makes a compelling claim, ask for supporting data. Don’t take someone’s word for it.

•Examine logic. Look closely at the evidence and be sure the logic holds up. Be on the lookout for faulty cause-and-effect reasoning

•Encourage experimentation. If you don’t have evidence, create some. Invite managers to conduct small experiments to test the viability of proposed strategies and use the resulting data to guide decisions. Adapted from Harvard Business Review on Making Smart Decisions Three Tips for Making Trade-offs Every important decision inevitably involves a trade-off. Knowing what you can’t pursue is as valuable as articulating what you will. But how do you know which trade-offs are acceptable and which are losing propositions? Here are three ways to help make the distinction:

•Get input on pros and cons. List advantages and disadvantages and ask others for their perspective on which carries the heaviest weight.

•Balance short term with long term. Determine what you’d be willing to give up in the long run for some important short-term gain — and vice versa.

•Gauge support. While weighing alternatives, think about who will support a particular idea and who will oppose it. Ask whose support you can live without, and whose backing and buy-in you absolutely need.
Adapted from The Harvard ManageMentor module “Strategic Thinking” Schedule Time for Second Guessing Questioning whether or not you’ve made the right decision can be a useful way to make sure you’re on the right track. But if you second guess yourself at the wrong time, you may feel tempted to give up on important commitments. Don’t question yourself when you are most vulnerable. Instead, schedule a time to review your decision critically when you are in the right frame of mind. For example, don’t wonder whether you should abandon a plan to talk more during meetings when you are walking into the conference room. Rather, tell yourself that you will question the decision ten minutes into the meeting, once you’ve had time to get used to the idea. Setting a time will also help you second guess once rather than nagging yourself with doubts. Adapted from “How (and When) to Motivate Yourself” by Peter Bregman Avoid Three Common Decision-Traps Making decisions is your most critical job as a leader. The more high-stakes a decision is, the more likely you are to get stuck. Here’s how to avoid three of the most common traps:

•Anchoring. Many people give disproportionate weight to the first information they receive. Be sure to pursue other lines of thinking, even if the first one seems right.

•Status quo. Change can be unsettling and it’s easy to favor alternatives that keep things the same. Ask yourself if the status quo truly serves your objectives and downplay the urge to stay in your current state.

•Confirming evidence. If you find that new information continually validates your existing point of view, ask a respected colleague to argue against your perspective. Also try to avoid working with people who always agree with you.
Adapted from Harvard Business Review on Making Smart Decisions Rely on Others to Improve your Judgment Reversing a decision that isn’t working out can be a painful experience. Perhaps the product you launched isn’t selling, or an ad campaign that you were behind is falling flat. Whatever the issue, accepting failure and changing direction can feel like a comment on your judgment. In these situations, call on others to help you evaluate and redirect. Ask people with a variety of perspectives — peers, direct reports, customers, family — to give you input on what went wrong and what to do now. The collective wisdom of this crowd can turn a bad situation into a winning one. Reversing a decision shouldn’t be a reason for shame, but a badge of honor in that you lived and learned. Adapted from “The House that Judgment Rebuilt” by Tom Davenport.