Articles tagged "Employee Feedback"
Vicki Hess, CSP stopped by today; read as she shares what’s missing in most discussions about employee engagement.
The Missing Piece of the Employee Engagement Puzzle
By Vicki Hess, CSP
Over the last decade, billions of dollars and millions of hours have been invested by organizations across the country to foster greater employee engagement, yet employee disengagement is still at or near all-time highs. Why? Because we’ve been missing a key piece of the engagement puzzle: the employees!
The solution to the employee engagement problem is three fold. It Takes 3™ to create sustainable engagement:
- An organization that deliberately and consistently supports employee engagement at the strategic level
- Leaders who regularly drive engagement at the tactical level
- Individuals who are accountable for engagement at a personal level
What’s missing in most discussions about engagement is the individual employee’s personal responsibility for his or her own engagement.
For years, experts and organizations have focused on the first 2 areas and their role in engagement. Until recently, there was very little focus on employees taking responsibility for their own engagement. Consider the typical employee engagement survey questions. Are they focused equally on the employee's role in creating engagement for themselves? Usually not. (But they should be.)
Unfortunately, organizations and their leaders have been misguided to believe that it’s their job – and theirs only – to engage employees. That’s not the case. As a leader, you are indeed a powerful influencer of engagement. Your organization has to be committed to creating a culture of engagement as well. Yet no matter how supportive the organization might be and how engaging a leader you are, you will never be able to engage an employee who doesn't want to be engaged. It is only when team members choose to be engaged and accept responsibility for their own engagement that we can achieve sustainable results. This is powerful and it’s time we acknowledge that truth.
In the It Takes 3™ model, engagement is represented by the point in the center where the organization, leader and individual circles all overlap. The organization and leaders are purposefully shown on the bottom because these two are foundational — they support engagement. All three circles are the same size to show that all three elements are equally important. In addition, there’s give and take between each component (Organization to Leaders; Leadership to Individuals; and, Organization to Individual).
Let’s look at these three elements in more detail:
An optimized organization that deliberately and consistently supports engagement at the strategic level.
You may be thinking this is very obvious. I agree. Yet when I talk with leaders across the country and ask them about their strategic initiatives regarding engagement, I get "umms" and "ahhs." These leaders are not able to clearly articulate their organization’s strategies that focus on engagement, and if they can’t articulate them, they probably aren't being consistently implemented or measured. Can your leadership group identify your organization’s strategic engagement initiatives?
Leaders who regularly drive engagement at the tactical level.
When it comes to engagement, a leader’s primary job is to “grease the wheels” for team member engagement and help them develop accountability for their own engagement. But distractions abound that pull leaders away from a focus on engagement, and this is a problem that is evidenced over time through unwanted turnover, employee complaints and low morale. Leaders who embrace employee engagement as a key priority will meet their goals faster and more productively.
Individuals who are accountable for engagement at a personal level.
It’s not enough to focus only on the organization’s and leaders’ roles in creating engagement. Each individual must own engagement at a personal level. Without question, external factors (such as the culture of the organization, pay and benefits, the team leader’s support, etc.) play a key role in engagement. However, ultimately, engagement is an internal issue – each of us decides to be engaged or disengaged, energized or apathetic. It's not something that someone does to us. It’s a choice each of us makes every day.
The missing piece in the employee engagement puzzle is found and today is a great day to start the conversation about shared accountability for engagement.
Vicki Hess works with clients nationwide who are serious about creating more engaged employees, motivated managers and optimized organizations. She is the author of 4 books about employee engagement and regularly speaks at conferences and meetings. To contact Vicki and to download free tools and resources to improve employee engagement, visit www.6ShortcutsToEngagement.com.
Ron Ashkenas wrote a great blog for Harvard Business Review in 2012 in which he outlines a seemingly obvious fact: Don't Ask for Feedback Unless You Want It. His perfectly titled article highlights the obvious blunders other leaders make by asking for others’ comments, input, or feedback, yet being irritated when they receive it. The hypocrisy of their actions is blatant. But what I most appreciate about Ashkenas’ article is his honesty in stating, “These behaviors, by the way, are much easier to see in other people than in ourselves.” Oops.
I say oops, because I know there have been many a time when I’d prefer to just plow ahead with what I believe to be the best solution and ignore the questions and suggestions of others. However, I’m hoping I’m getting better. It’s been an intentional skill I've worked to hone over the years. Having studied and taught critical listening, I intentionally try to not “click-off” others and mentally shift gears when they start questioning or suggesting things I don't believe relevant or correct. I, at times, force myself to remain poker faced and listen to the input of others, because I've found that more often than not, their insights often add to, affirm, or rightly challenge a plan.
As an example, having just completed a series of board meetings for a national association for which I’m the Strategic Planning Committee Chair, I had to sit back and measure myself against Ashkenas’ insights. How did I accept comments, questions, requested changes, or challenges to the plans I'd just presented? How open was I to others’ suggestions? How easy did I make it for others to feel a part of the plans because they were able to understand them, question them, and enhance them? I’m hoping I helped them understand they are the owners of the plans, not me or the committee. I'm hoping they understand the plans intimately and see the value they bring our members.
All in all, I believe I did because their questions and suggestions helped make the plans even stronger. Without their input, the plans would have been good. With their input, the plans are going to take our members where they want to go. All because, we asked for input…and we got it.
Copyright MMXIV Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
I've recently had interesting conversations with a few organizations that want my company to work with them in developing their leaders. That's great but we're running into an initial roadblock as each company's leadership team has basically said, "We're hearing more and more that performance appraisals are a thing of the past. They're demoralizing, time-consuming, and ineffective. No one here likes to do them, so as a leadership team, we've decided we're not going to do them anymore." That's fine. And by the way, that's very trendy.
However, let's think about the reality of this type of personnel management strategy. If you as a leadership team decide to no longer use an objective performance review system that aligns performance to your organization's values and goals, how do you plan to ensure there are no surprises for your employees or management team?
How do you plan to keep things fair?
By keeping things fair I mean, what's your plan to ensure:
- your employees know clearly and specifically what is expected of them (What's expected of them not only before they were hired, but while they're on the job, and also going forward)?
- your leadership team is continuously providing feedback to employees on what each employee and team is doing well to drive the organization forward and what areas are starting to be a concern?
- your human resources team has the appropriate and adequate documentation to address any legal actions that may be taken by disgruntled or terminated employees?
If you are one of the fortunate few organizations that has an established culture where every employee just "gets it," and knows and does the right things day in and day, you may not need a performance review and planning system. However, if your organization is like most, you probably deal with personnel "issues" small or large on a regular basis. So my question to you is: Are you eliminating performance reviews because you really don't need them, or are you eliminating them because as an organization and leadership team, you've never created and used them effectively before? If your organization views them as punitive, you've not managed their use correctly. If your organization views them as a collaborative planning and development tool, why are you doing away with them?
So again, if you don't want to use performance appraisals, fine. But what's your plan to keep things fair?
You've cut prices, you've refined your target customer base, you've increased your advertising and still --- business is so slow it's dangerous. The economy is not good, but other companies seem to be selling similar products and services. How are they able to survive (and yes, thrive) while your sales are tanking? They've focused on growing their businesses through their employees, instead of through their customers alone.
Successful companies have realized that if they better educate, train, and communicate with their employees on 'the business', their organization's bottom line will likely improve. Why? Better informed and better trained employees are able to generate sales. They're able to identify ways to improve processes, and to discover ways to reduce costs. Regardless of title or position, everyone in the organization can now contribute to growing 'the business'.
Every employee, at every level of your organization is a potential sales person. Every employee is a potential manager and leader. Every employee is a potential process engineer. But your employees can't reach their potential, until they've been given information, training, and guidance to make that potential a reality.
Who better to learn the entire production process than the people on the line? Why not teach them how enhancements to their process can positively impact the rest of the line?
Who better to learn project management than the people who have been gathering the data for the project? Why not teach them how to marry the data with real- world applications?
Who better to study the deep demographics of your customers than your front-line tellers? Why not teach them how to quickly identify customer segments and then use the appropriate cross-selling techniques?
At a bare minimum, if your employees wear company shirts, jackets, or uniforms, recognize that they are your passive sales team. They're walking billboards for your organization. Therefore, it's critical these employees understand 'the business' and can explain it to others.
I recently suggested to one of my clients that he and his senior staff wear their company shirts to any Rotary, Chamber, Lions, business or community function. The owner thought the idea was rather weak. However, that night he wore his company shirt to an after-work community fund-raiser. The woman he sat next to commented on his shirt. My client explained what his company provided, and walked away with her card. The next day, he followed up with her -- and received a large purchase order. My client has since scheduled more training for all of his employees, he now includes product and services briefings in his regular production meetings, and -- he's ordered more shirts!
Don't limit your growth by focusing exclusively on your customers. Leverage your business through your employees. 'Grow' your employees, and they'll grow your business.
Copyright MMIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!
Are you being fair with your managers? Are you sharing critical information with them in a timely manner? Are you developing performance standards for them and the company and then not sharing those standards with them? If you answered, "Yes, Yes, and No" that's great. But stop and really think about your answers.