• Employee Engagement: What is it?

    love-my-job

    We’ve been hearing a lot about employee engagement. It sounds like a good thing, but what is it, really? How do you know when you have it (and don’t have it), and how can you get it? I’m so glad you’ve asked.

    Employee engagement is a condition in which team members feel valued and involved enough with a company to willingly and positively contribute all of their ability for the betterment of the business.

    Sounds great, right? How does an employee come to feel valued and make the decision to invest all of him or herself in their employer’s business? It starts during the job interview, and continues through retirement…and it’s always the responsibility of the employer.

    There is a deficit of employee engagement, and the epidemic is global.

    Only 13% of employees, worldwide, report feeling engaged at work[1].

    This is bad news for employees in general; however, it’s great news for you, an employer. This is a prime opportunity to be the employer who engages, and to therefore attract the best and most dedicated talent to your business.

    As a growing and thriving business, you want your employees to wake up excited to go to work. You want them to arrive ready to go and always be thinking of new ways to improve the customer experience, operational efficiency, your product line and your bottom line.

    Highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity2.

    This is what engagement looks like. And here’s how you can get it:

    • Your business has a set of core values that it abides by and demonstrates through all media (or at least it should). Whenever a person is being considered for employment with your company, you must determine if he or she shares those same values as part of their personal and professional credos. When values align, engagement comes much more easily. When they don’t, there will be a struggle…every day.
    • Create a feeling of ownership for every employee, no matter their job description. Whether the team member is head of a department or a new-hire, make it clear how what they do contributes to the overall success of the business. Show them the results of jobs well-done and give them credit whenever they’re responsible or accountable. When everyone feels like a significant part of the effort, they will not only do a better job, they will do it as if they were doing it for themselves.
    • Keeping everyone informed is another great way to nurture engagement. With every piece of relevant information shared (profits, KPIs, etc.), you will increase feelings of value and ownership.
    • Give employees the freedom to come to you with problems, as well as the freedom to make decisions pertinent to their roles and the freedom to be creative with their jobs—without the fear of reprimand. This is the type of environment in which company advocates and forward-thinking innovators are born. Provide this, and you’ll have every employee striving to improve your business.
    • Utilise an open-feedback policy, in which all team members feel the liberty to speak honestly about all matters, whether positive or negative, without fear of repercussion. This not only feels like ownership and feeds engagement, it works toward building a strong brand, overall.

    We have only scratched the surface of employee engagement here. If you’re hoping for more advice on engaging your employees so that you can grow your business more effectively, we should talk. We can accomplish a lot in 30 minutes, and I invite you contact me to schedule that consultation. Your employees will thank you—with higher-level involvement, positive workplace attitudes and a bottom line that proves you’re doing it right.

    [1] Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace

    2Workplace Research Foundation

     

  • 7 Benefits of Delegating

    When you learn to delegate, you learn to help your business succeed.

    In the previous blog, you learned the difference between accountability and responsibility, and now it’s time to learn how you can remain accountable while delegating responsibilities to others.

    Many of you will admit that delegating is difficult. For some, it’s perfectionism or a lack of trust that keeps them from handing over tasks. Others feel that it’s just easier to do it themselves, they don’t want to impose, they enjoy the tasks they’re completing or they just don’t feel they have the time to monitor and follow up on delegated tasks.

    Letting go and trusting that others will complete tasks is a big problem for many business owners. They think that micromanaging is a better, more comfortable solution…but they end up disempowering their staff and generally driving down their businesses.

    The practice of business owners doing the highest value jobs, whilst passing other lower-level tasks to employees (or to managers, who then delegate to employees), is a good business practice that will ultimately result in the following benefits:

    1. You can devote the majority of your time to those tasks most important to building your business, its relationships and its reach.
    2. Employees get opportunities to grow and to feel empowered with responsibility.
    3. Employees feel challenged and proud of what they’ve accomplished, meaning they will be champions for your business—at work and on their own time.
    4. You are not highly skilled in every task. Chances are that someone else within your organisation is better at a lower-level task than you are.
    5. There’s no better or more efficient way to get things done than to delegate tasks to those people who are best equipped to complete them.
    6. Something that feels tedious to you will feed someone else’s passion.
    7. Developing your delegation skills (and overcoming your fear of it) is a valuable skill that will help you to advance your career.

    Even with all of these benefits in mind, it can still be difficult to get started in learning to delegate. Many leaders choose to bypass the acquisition of this valuable skill—and unfortunately, their businesses suffer.

    A survey has found that 46% of companies have a high level of concern for their employees’ delegation skills. However, only 28% of them offer training to develop those skills[1].

    It rarely works well for the same person to be both accountable and responsible for any task or project. For this reason, delegation of duties is crucial to success. But as you can see in the above stat, there isn’t a lot of support for developing those skills.

    So, what can you do to get started? The first step is recognising that everybody in an organisation should be doing tasks that are their highest value.  What tasks/roles do you have that add the highest value? Focus on freeing up your time to do more of these higher value tasks and hand down everything else.  Specifically delegate those tasks that are:

    • repetitive
    • a complete task, rather than part of a bigger task
    • of interest to an employee
    • within an employee’s specific skillset
    • important for building an employee’s skillset
    • outside your own skillset
    • of low importance
    • not urgent (yet!)

    After you have identified tasks that would work well for delegation, follow these guidelines when communicating the tasks to your employee(s):

    • Give a clear explanation of what the job entails.
    • Stipulate what you expect the employee to learn by completing the task.
    • Ensure that the employee knows where to go for help or support.
    • Clearly communicate what you expect as an end result, but leave the method up to the employee.
    • Ensure that the employee knows who is accountable for the task (i.e. who should be reported to).
    • Invite questions and opinions.
    • Agree on a plan of action for moving forward (due date, etc.).
    • Articulate your confidence in this person.
    • Monitor their progress, particularly the first few times they complete this type of task.
    • Give feedback and recognise the employee for a job well-done.
    • Remember to reward the completion of tasks, over time, with benefits, raises in pay, promotions, etc.

    When you learn to delegate, you learn to help your business succeed. You may not realise it, but many of your employees are just waiting to be given more responsibility—because that is an indicator of your trust in them. Learn to trust your staff and to delegate and you will be surprised at the level of talent already in your business waiting to be discovered. By learning to delegate you are developing your staff by helping them to grow and increase the highest value tasks that they can do in an organisation.  If everyone spends most of their time doing their highest value tasks your business will grow rapidly.

    Need some guidance as you break through your fear of delegation? Or are you wondering if your current delegation plan is the most effective and efficient it can be? Let’s schedule a 30-minute consultation. We’ll discuss how you can use delegation to fuel your business’s success. Contact me here.

    [1] Institute for Corporate Productivity

  • Failure. Who’s to blame?

    blame

    Turn on any news programme and you’re likely to hear a story about a corporate scandal, political faux pas, horrible accident…and a CEO talking about being responsible, or accountable—or both.

    Here’s the thing: in business and life, there is rarely a situation in which the same person is both responsible and accountable for “what went down.”

    The difference is:

    Accountable: One person is answerable for a project’s success or failure. This accountable person must be capable of giving a complete account of what happened (and how and why). The accountable person reports and monitors tasks as they’re being carried out; however, the completion of those tasks is rarely within this person’s direct power. The accountable person’s main assignments are managing, tracking, and monitoring progress.

    Responsible: A person is charged with completing a task, directly. The person is totally in charge of (responsible for) the task’s success or failure. This person takes hands-on action, and the task’s completion is within his or her direct power. The responsible person generally reports to, and works for, the accountable person.

    In most cases, when a task or project fails, one person is publically accountable for its failure—but is rarely directly responsible for that failure.

    When Donald Trump (U.S. Presidential Candidate) was found to be giving away hats made in China (despite the fact that his campaign touts bringing jobs back to the U.S. from China), he was held accountable for the faux pas—even though he was not responsible for ordering those hats. (He may have been just as surprised as the public to see those tags.) Mr. Trump, because of his position, was required to take accountability for that campaign failure. He was not, however, required to be responsible for it.

    We exist in a business (and life) culture centred on placing blame. When something goes right, we want to take credit. When something goes wrong, finger-pointing ensues. I believe this culture has contributed to a lot of the confusion surrounding accountability and responsibility. And this confusion has, in turn, contributed to an overall lack of accountability.

    However, if we were to increase our knowledge around these concepts, we might be more inclined to put them to work. Consider this:

    The probability of reaching a goal is 95% when a specific accountability appointment is made[1].

    In other words, if someone is made explicitly accountable, a project is more likely to be completed—regardless of whether or not that person is responsible for its completion.

    It can help to remember that, generally, managers are accountable and workers are responsible. This doesn’t mean that managers are never responsible—they often have their own tasks outside the projects they’re accountable for.

    Every task must have an accountable party and at least one responsible party assigned to it. In order to keep projects and tasks on-schedule (to properly carry out the business plan), many business owners and managers have turned to the RACI matrix—a method for organising and tracking the completion of tasks. Here’s how it works:

    • R (Responsible): the worker, the person in charge of completing the task
    • A (Accountable): the manager, the person in charge of managing and tracking progress
    • C (Consult): the person whose consultation is necessary for completing the task (2-way communication before the task can be completed)
    • I (Inform): the person who is informed when the task is completed (1-way communication that may result in their starting of another task)

    In order to create your own RACI matrix, simply list tasks down the left side, people involved along the top, and assign each cell with one A, at least one R, and Cs and Is as necessary. Here’s an example:

    Project ABC

    John Blair Sandy Rob Jenny William
    Interview A R

    I

         

    Case Study

    A I R

    C

       
    Press Release

    A

    R

    C

         
    Campaign A C     R

    R

     

    • John is accountable for the ultimate completion of Project ABC. He must oversee all tasks and monitor them to ensure they’re being completed.
    • Blair will conduct the interview, and he will inform Sandy when it’s finished so she can proceed with the research and writing of the case study.
    • Sandy will consult with Rob for the case study, and will inform Blair as soon as it’s done so he can start on the press release.
    • Blair will consult with Sandy about the case study, so he can write a thorough press release.
    • Jenny and William will consult with Blair in order to create a marketing campaign.

    It’s always helpful to share the RACI matrix with all involved before any project is started, to ensure that everyone understands their role(s). This will promote a smooth workflow, will cut down on the “passing of the buck,” and will help to ensure that clear, defined action is taken in order to fulfil the business plan.

    Are you wondering how a better understanding of the difference between accountable and responsible can help you to get things done, in pursuit of business success? Then I invite you to schedule a 30-minute consultation with me. Let’s talk about your business plan, and how implementing it with purpose and efficiency can contribute to your ultimate success. Contact me here.

    [1] American Society of Training and Development

  • Vision, Critical for your Business Strategy

    Vision Strategy Innovation Signpost Shows Business Leadership And Ideas

    If you’ve ever planned a business trip, you will understand that knowing your destination is essential to making it a productive endeavour. Without knowing where you are heading, you might end up wandering the globe indefinitely searching for the right conference room.

    On the other hand, maybe you have set out on a road trip without a particular destination in mind. These days can be fun if you have no specific goal in mind and the intention is to just wander around seeing where you end up and enjoying the ride as you go along.

    Now whilst meandering along on a road trip can have its benefits, let’s be serious: your business growth strategy is not intended to be an adventure in wandering, it is intended to help you arrive at a predetermined place of your choosing.

    Once you’ve determined WHY and are inspired to move forward, the next step is to establish specifically WHERE you are going—in the form of a clear and ambitious destination. Your business strategy will span the gap between WHY, which is a belief, and WHERE, which is the vision of where you wish to arrive.

    Having a Vision is essential to creating and delivering a business growth strategy that will work; however, not just any vision will do. Consider these points before moving forward:

    Your vision must be compelling to your staff. When any team works hard (and works together) to win, you can presume that they share the same vision. Sharing the same vision as a team means travelling in one common direction, toward a common goal. And there’s a way to encourage every team member to do so: Provide them with a compelling vision. It must be something they want to achieve. If the vision is exciting and your team members share common values with your business, you are more likely to accomplish your goal because everyone will get behind the effort.

    Your vision must be big and inspiring. You’ve heard about short-term goals and how important they are to progress. This is different. This is about your main vision for what your brand will accomplish, big-picture and long-term. When a vision is too small (i.e. too “safe”), people tend to get stuck on small obstacles because the vision isn’t desirable or grandiose enough to inspire them to push through or work around those obstacles. When NASA communicated its vision to land a man on the moon, they did it. They probably wouldn’t have accomplished that had they simply endeavoured to create a vehicle that could fly into space.

    Remember: Shoot for the moon and even if you miss you will land among the stars.

    Small Vision = Small Result. Big Vision = Big Achievement.

    Your vision must be clear. It can be tempting to name a vision that’s vague, because if the destination isn’t clear, we tend to feel like “getting close” equals success. To the contrary, having a clear vision with well-defined anticipated results will provide you with clearer answers to choices, a clearer path to the next step, and a business strategy more clearly understood, because it’s more specific in what it intends to accomplish.

    Your vision must come before your strategy. This was mentioned earlier, but it’s worth repeating. You will have difficulty arriving at a destination that has not been identified. For this reason, establish your vision first, and then build your business strategy around achieving it. Reverse this process, and your focus will naturally fall on the strategy and how difficult the obstacles seem. There will be no motivation (vision) for navigating around them.

    As you develop a vision statement for your company, think about how you want others to see your business in the future. Some of the most compelling business vision statements are about how to improve or inspire customers’ lives, or about offering best-quality products and services. Below are some great examples of well-known company vision statements:

    Amazon: “To be the world’s most customer-centric company.”
    Ben and Jerry’s: “Making the best possible ice cream, in the nicest possible way”
    Disney: “To make people happy.”
    LinkedIn: “To connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive and successful.”
    Nike: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

    Are you clear about your business vision? Do you feel that you have the tools necessary for discovering it? Often, a bit of outside help can be just what you need to move you toward uncovering your destination. Contact me via email or phone to have a free 30-minute consultation to become clearer on the vision that will fuel your business growth strategy.

  • Engage, Enthuse and Empower your Employees

    Engage, Enthuse and Empower your Employees

    It is fair to say that the new modern age of social connectivity is changing how we do business.   It is also having a profound effect on how businesses are managed.  Old structures and ways of thinking and behaving are changing.  The typical hierarchical model where employees are viewed as simply cogs in a machine is having to change to adapt to a new paradigm that emphasises connection, collaboration and innovation.

    Companies have to take a serious look at the current culture within their organisation and examine whether it supports an environment of employee engagement.  Employee engagement has become a buzz word but it has very real consequences for the organisation.

    A study by Towers Watson, a professional services firm, interviewed 90,000 employees in 18 countries, and identified that companies with high employee engagement had a 19% increase in operating income compared to a 32% drop in operating income for companies with low levels of engagement.

    How do you create higher employee engagement?  Two simple steps to implement are to clearly define and articulate your organisation vision and your core values.  An inspiring business vision creates purpose for employees beyond their current day to day activities. Defining your core values signals to your current and future employees what is important to your company.  The core values of your business determine your expectations about behaviour in your staff and your partners.  Knowing your core values helps to identify the type of people you want to work in or with the company, and vice versa.

    Longer term employee engagement comes from changing the top down culture of being told what to do to one that encourages personal responsibility and accountability.  Supporting staff to be accountable encourages people to behave outside their current comfort zone and explore their inherent potential.  This allows for personal growth and ultimately generates higher levels of performance. Studies have shown that employees who are offered the opportunity for self direction, the chance to better themselves, and given a greater sense of purpose are much more highly motivated. 

    One of the keys to changing the existing culture, thinking and behaviour in an organisation  is to examine the underlying operating paradigm within it. Uncovering the unspoken beliefs about how the team operates  is not an easy thing to do as they run unconsciously in the background. 

    In the team leadership sessions that I run with clients when we get to the point of identifying the underlying limiting beliefs or paradigm we call this the “moment of Change”.  It is really an “ahhh” moment for the team when they can see the thoughts that have been running them in the background and what has been holding them back.  It is called the moment of change since at this point teams can choose a new paradigm that is more effective and empowering. It is akin to upgrading the operating system of a computer to make it work more effectively.

    Creating a culture of accountability and responsibility takes time to develop.  It is not something that will change overnight but once done the impact is enormous.  Individuals are happier, teams perform better and ultimately the results in the organisation are significantly improved. 

    If you would like to find out more about how one of our team programmes could impact the culture and performance in your organisation please click this link so that we can plan a time to talk together.