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Category Archives: Employee Engagement

Why must managers share their vision with staff?

The biggest danger to a vision is that only a small group of people are aware of it, let alone support it, and in these instances that vision never comes to fruition and nothing actually changes.

To communicate the vision, it must be driven deep into the organisation and across to all its outermost reaches. Every office in every region must be equally in support of the same vision.

This is one of the primary reasons why people in small organisations find it easier to grasp the ‘vision thing’ than those in larger organisations. There is less chance of it being tarnished by ‘Not Invented Here’ or corrupted by the chain of communication.

Repetition breeds awareness, acceptance and understanding of your vision. Lee Iacocca’s historic vision for Chrysler was not only trumpeted internally to managers and staff, but also constantly repeated to people outside the organisation.

The vision became a central theme in much of the company’s advertising. Iacocca used every opportunity to share it with consumers, suppliers and shareholders. He even spoke about it on the floor of the US Congress. By doing so, he ensured that it influenced a great number of people, which in turn helped Chrysler achieve its business goals. 

This repetition and consistency in the communication of the vision was a critical component of Chrysler’s turnaround and success. Vision, therefore, should be worked into as many situations in the workplace as possible. It should also be integrated into as many communication channels as possible:

  • Business presentations
  • Training events
  • New employee inductions
  • Written communications – reports, letterheads, emails
  • Annual appraisals
  • Business plans at all levels
  • Newsletters
  • Websites
  • Advertising and marketing campaigns

Senior executives should use every opportunity available to share the vision and to act in a manner consistent with it. People, both inside and outside the organisation, will notice when the vision is truly being lived by watching the actions of the business leaders. They can talk the talk but if they don’t walk the walk those words will be meaningless and they will lose respect in a heartbeat.

Effective alignment of behaviours to a vision can be seen when a visitor to your organisation could drop in and infer your vision without having to read it on paper, solely by observing the actions and behaviours of you and your staff.

Everyone, directors, managers and staff alike, must model behaviours that are consistent with the organisation’s vision. It is through such actions that all members of the business will believe in and live a meaningful manifestation of the vision.

Once all stakeholders share and live the vision, an environment of true alignment with the vision will exist and this will drive the business toward its goals.

The sense of shared vision will guide people’s behaviour and their expectations and will also be self-reinforcing and self-motivating. Once the leader establishes a sense of shared vision within his or her business, not only will the business benefit, but all the members of the team will benefit also.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – to get your free trial of the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

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How to overcome procrastination

Most people are guilty of procrastination at work for one of a variety of reasons:

  • The task is difficult or unpleasant so you either don’t want to or don’t know how to do it
  • The task is a small one, it won’t take long and can wait until later
  • The task is huge, it’s difficult to know where to begin
  • The task is low priority, you will do it when you’ve finished more urgent things
  • If you delay the task, it might not need doing at all
  • You don’t want to run out of work; you might look expendable.
  • You do your best work under pressure so let’s wait for the task to become a more urgent matter

To deal with procrastination, focus on the result, not on the process. Think about how satisfying it will be to get that monkey off your back and do this any time you start to feel unmotivated or negative about the task.

If you are tempted to leave the task thinking if you ignore it for long enough it will go away then you are taking a risk. It could suddenly become something that needs top priority and you end up having to start from scratch to get it done quickly – meaning the quality suffers. 

Try the following recommended techniques for overcoming procrastination:

  • Tackle the job you least want to do first thing when you get to work. You will experience a great sense of achievement and the day can only get better after that.
  • If you’re not sure how to do the task, analyse exactly what information you need and where to get it. Seek help now rather than on deadline day when no one is around.
  • The task may be simple but sometimes the unexpected happens and you have no contingency time left. Schedule a start time for the task on your ‘to do’ list and get it done.
  • Break down large tasks into manageable chunks; scheduling each with both a start time and finish time, and tick them off on completion.
  • You may believe you do your best work under pressure, but this attitude can convey an arrogant disregard for others whose input or participation is needed. Set a new earlier, deadline to allow for any unavoidable delays.
  • Promise yourself a reward on completion of the task. This works well if you are a ‘towards’ person – someone who is motivated by moving towards the attainment of targets and goals. This is also known as a pleasure motivator.
  • You may, however, be an ‘away from’ person, in which case, the painful consequences of not completing the task may be so dire that they give you a real kick-start to get it done. To activate this kind of motivator, imagine the worst consequences of not doing the task, and then multiply the seriousness of these consequences 100-fold. Not surprisingly, this is known as a pain motivator.
  • Finally, you could set yourself a challenge. Decide how long you are prepared to work on this task for and then use a digital timer to count down the minutes until it alerts you with a ‘ping’ that your allocated time is up. This works particularly well with mundane tasks such as filing or a housekeeping activity on your PC. You will find yourself competing against the clock to see how much you can achieve before the time goes.

There is an unwritten law around the concept that work expands to fill the time available. However, if you do complete all your workload, this leaves you time to be proactive and seek new opportunities that could enhance your career and professional standing.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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How do you maintain self-motivation at work?

When things are not all you want them to be in your professional life, motivation is one of the first things that can start to waver. During these periods, there are certain things you can do keep yourself motivated which in turn will make you more productive and, of course, happier.

1. Surround yourself with positive people. You are what you think and those around you can influence your thoughts. So if you sit next to someone in the office who is always being negative, it is bound to get you down.

2. Take on some more responsibility. It could be that you have lost motivation because you are not being sufficiently challenged at work. Ask your manager if there is any of the projects you can get involved with. Even if there isn’t right now, showing willing means you are more likely to be thought of the next time something comes up.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize. Is there something you are working towards either within the workplace or outside of the office? Everybody needs to have a goal – an objective and an outcome they want to achieve. Are you pushing for a promotion or a pay rise? Is there are holiday coming up that you are really looking forward to? If you are lacking motivation, frequently remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing. 

4. Be active. Regular exercise has been proven to help maintain a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. If you are feeling mentally sluggish, this can often transmit to your energy levels and you can feel drained. By actually being physically active you energise your body and your motivation levels can, in turn, increase as a result.

5. Remember why you have it good. When lacking in motivation, it can be easy to fall into the trap of only thinking about all the terrible aspects of your working life. Each day, it can help to take the time to think about all the things you like about your job, the things you are grateful for, and the positive impact your job has on other aspects of your life. Again, it’s all about getting into the habit of being in a positive frame of mind.

These are just five things that can help increase self-motivation and which you might find useful the next time you are staring at your computer screen wondering why you no longer get that buzz you used to get from a job well done.

At Catalyst, we run learning and development courses covering many aspects of management, coaching, people skills and Motivational Insights™. Click here for more information.

I know there are many other tools and techniques out there that work well so please leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

 

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Performance management. What are the key skills?

Managing a person’s performance requires a wide range of skills, from the inter-personal through to process skills. The key ones are as follows:

Goal setting

Without setting a goal, you cannot manage a performance since nobody has a yardstick with which to measure achievements. No measurement, no management.

Coaching

Coaching is an essential part of managing staff performance so individuals can learn how things could have been achieved more efficiently. To improve performance, it is helpful to coach them through using questions such as:

  • How do you think you could have done that differently, for a better outcome?

Or

  • Do you think ‘Z’ approach would have been more effective?

This allows staff to evaluate their own performance and helps them consider other possible approaches for next time.

Mentoring

A mentor’s role is that of someone who has ‘done it before’ so they use their own personal experience to meet the same objectives. This is frequently called mentoring, as opposed to coaching.

Delegation

This can be a very useful way to improve staff performance. Even if the delegated work isn’t carried out perfectly, with the right feedback and coaching it can be extremely effective management tool. 

Empowerment

This is used to drive an individual’s performance to new highs because people often respond to the feeling of empowerment to complete a task by performing well, as long as there’s an appropriate level of coaching and feedback.

Feedback

If a person is doing well at a particular task, or just in general, tell them and they are more likely to continue performing to that standard. Positive feedback makes people feel good, giving them a sense of achievement and motivating them to continue working hard.

On the flip side, if a person is performing ineffectively and they don’t know why, won’t improve. Constructive feedback enables individuals to address any problems or challenges and become more effective.

Listening and questioning

When you are listening to someone, focus on them and absorb what they say. Get underneath their skin and understand their perspective.

Asking relevant, probing, open questions allowing for further discussion to get to the core of any problems. This focuses on addressing the causes of issues, rather than unmet objectives.

People will not always tell you the real reasons for issues. For example, they may feel they should have the skills to do their job, but don’t really understand what they should be doing.

Time management 

A person who isn’t managing their time effectively, and therefore not meeting their objectives, may need help to understand how they can manage their time better. You can help your employees by assisting them with things like task prioritisation.

Regarding your own time management, you may need to seek clarification from your manager to ensure priorities have not changed and that you are performing effectively.

Motivation

Motivation is often used to explain poor performance and while there are often many factors, motivation is clearly a major factor in levels of performance. As a manager, you need to know what motivation is and how to encourage it in your people.

Assertiveness

Despite their senior position, many managers are unable to be genuinely assertive. They are either unable to ask for what they want without trampling over the rights of their people or to set firm boundaries and expectations.

360 degree appraisals

This is a useful assessment if an individual is unaware of their performance level or if it differs greatly from how others see it. It can also help when the individual is not receptive to constructive feedback.

It combats this lack of awareness and thus raises the individual’s performance because the feedback is usually supplied anonymously so it’s harder for the individual to dispute the findings.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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Feedback or criticism?

One source of feedback that we all use, when available, is other people. We notice how other people react to what we are doing. Their reaction might be positive, negative, planned or spontaneous.

Whatever their response, or lack of it, we will draw conclusions about what that response means. We are then likely to modify our behaviour based on those conclusions, especially if we consider the other person credible. Feedback drives us to change.

We modify our behaviour based on the conclusions we draw about someone else’s behaviour. How do we know our conclusions are correct? How do we know for sure that their behaviour was in response to ours?

Maybe that smile was a sign of approval for our actions, or maybe our actions just reminded them of something funny, or maybe they were daydreaming about a joke from the pub last night and didn’t even notice what we were doing.

Unintentional

Most feedback we get from other people is unintentional: that is, they don’t have a planned outcome in mind. They just react, and we then react. It is an informal process, but nonetheless very powerful.

As a manager, you need to be conscious of this power, and to be aware of what your body language and behaviour might be saying to people, because they will use it as feedback. To improve your informal feedback to others, you should be consistent in your approach and behaviour. 

Intentional

A small proportion of the feedback we receive from other people is given by them on purpose. And this kind of personal feedback can be incredibly useful.

In an ideal world, the other person gives us valid and useful information about what we are doing with our best interests in mind. In a less-than-ideal world, we sometimes get criticism.

Criticism

We all know about criticism and the damage it can do to us – to our confidence and self esteem. But what is criticism and how is it different to feedback?

The simplest way to tell the difference is to consider whom the comments will benefit. Are they for the benefit of the giver or the receiver?

Feedback is for the benefit of the receiver. Its purpose is to help them grow and develop, and reinforce positive behaviour or actions.

On the other hand, criticism always benefits the giver. In most cases, it is done to make the giver feel in some way superior to the receiver. It is often negative and judgemental. It is in many cases subjective rather than objective and it is usually destructive.

Types of feedback

  • Purposeful feedback can be divided into two types:
  • Positive feedback
  • Constructive feedback.

Positive feedback

Positive feedback is also known as ‘praise’. This type of feedback is mainly used as a motivator. It recognises the good work that someone has done and rewards them for it.

Constructive feedback

Constructive feedback is letting someone know that they did not do something in an appropriate way, or that they did something incorrectly. The message is constructive and helps the individual to improve, rather than just being a message about what they shouldn’t do.

 

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The role of the manager in employee engagement

Employee engagement is not only affected by how the organisation as a whole treats and values its staff, but by all the interactions an employee has in the work place. Managers have a significant impact on employee engagement; they play a key role in sustaining it and undoubtedly can also turn it off.

Think about two roles that you have had: one where you loved going to work and performed at your best and one where you didn’t want to go to work, underperformed and frequently looked for another job.

What was it in each case that supported the way you felt about that role? Was it a great manager or a poor manager? Was it the role itself that you felt passionate about and were interested in? What did the organisation do to support staff? Was there anything else in the role that was affecting your performance?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you’ll have a clear view of some of the key requirements for employee engagement.

Below are some more practical tips for ways to support employee engagement and maximise your team’s performance. So that you can decide where to concentrate your energies, take time to consider in which particular areas there is room for improvement within your department or team. There is plenty of more detailed information in several topics.

The following tips are by no means exhaustive. These are just some ideas about what managers can do to engage with their staff as a team. This can be expanded to all your interactions with other staff in the organisation and your customers too.

Communicate

Talk to your team about what’s happening in the business, about work in the team and, importantly, them as individuals. Get to know your team members and what is important to them; don’t just play lip service to this – they will know if you are faking an interest, so be genuine!

Remember they are all unique, just as you are, so they might not like the same things, feel the same way or want the same things! Failures in communication can often arise because it’s too easy to assume that everyone else thinks as we do.

Hear them – listen to what they say, seek their thoughts and don’t just dismiss their views, opinions and ideas. 

Make time for your team – ensure you are available to members of your team when they need you and help them to find their way around the organisation.

Have fun!

This might sound odd, but having fun at work breeds excitement and energy and these are some of the key signals of engaged employees. Imagine an excited employee talking to a customer versus a disheartened employee talking to one – which customer do you think would come back again?

Development

An important part of your responsibility as a manager is to take an interest in developing the individuals in your team, making sure they feel valued, they have the opportunity to hone their existing skills, acquire new ones and generally feel a sense of purpose.

  • Actively support them in their development, seek opportunities and ways to help them grow and reach their goals. If you don’t know what their goals are, find out!
  • Empower them to make decisions and take ownership of projects
  • Trust them to do the job and to come to you if they need to
  • Ensure they have everything they need to do the job and do it to the best of their ability
  • Be flexible, open to new ideas and ways of working

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to a the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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