Employee Engagement: A Partnership Mindset

Employee-Engagement-MindsetDo you have a partnership mindset? Nothing extinguishes employee engagement more than feeling controlled, used or disrespected. But when employees are regarded as partners rather than subjects, they have the highest sense of value. Their performance matches their engagement, and they can accomplish amazing feats.

I wrote about this sense of value in my last post. When leaders treat their employees as a lower class, or as props for personal gain, resentment and disillusionment set in.

True partners are included in all decisions, plans and discussions. As stakeholders, they should be familiar with the organization’s vision, mission and strategy, and how they fit into big-picture growth and improvement. Inclusion is a great motivator, but unfortunately, many employees lack access to company business plans—sometimes inadvertently, often intentionally.

Inform people about situations related to their specific roles and duties. Open communication on matters big and small promotes inclusion and value. Share important decisions with them, and explain the reasons or rationale. Give them the supportive data or validation you were given so they can better appreciate the organization’s methods and values. This improves their trust, comfort and engagement.

With any decision or change, allow people to understand how they’re affected—collectively and individually. Leaders should set the example of embracing the progressive aspects of new policies or practices. Part of enhancing engagement is creating a more positive environment, where people feel cared for, their interests are considered and their futures are secure. They don’t need propaganda or fluff—just truthful, trustworthy and timely information.

Your people will feel more unified and engaged when they understand how they’ll contribute to upcoming changes, meet the new challenges and make their environment better—together.

Everyone benefits when leaders share their personal progress or status. Such communication conveys value and unity. Find the best ways to impart information, and allow people to offer input or feedback. Meetings, reports or messages can be used in different ways, with varying effectiveness. Creating a way for people to raise concerns and get answers enhances their interest in their roles. Keeping people connected and informed pays many dividends.

What do you think? Do you have a partnership mindset? Do your employees feel included in decision making? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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Creating a Culture of Engagement

Culture-of-EngagementDo you have a culture of engagement in your organization?

I wrote about measuring employee engagement in my last post, here. Adopting a philosophy that puts people first, strengthens engagement, provided it’s backed by actions. In my work as a coach, I’ve seen enthusiasm skyrocket when leaders create a positive environment, promote helpfulness, value their staff, and provide the resources necessary for success.

If you need to strengthen engagement, send a clear and consistent message that you value your employees. One way to convey this is to provide the tools they need to do their best work. Are you aware of any gaps? For example:

  • Do they need additional manpower or funding?
  • Are better supplies or equipment required?
  • Do your people have the direction and plans they need to ensure projects are completed successfully?
  • Are procedures and policies thoroughly communicated, and is training adequate?
  • Do people know exactly what to do—and why they’re doing it?

It may seem obvious, but without these baseline provisions, people feel lost, frustration builds and disengagement flourishes. Frustration leads to resentment and low morale when leaders fail to implement solutions.

Never forget that people need adequate skills to accomplish the tasks you’ve assigned. Only then can they be confident in their abilities and enjoy success. Doing good work compels people to continue on the right path. As they reap the rewards of a job well done, they continue to grow and can make greater contributions to the organization. They’ll look forward to new challenges and opportunities. It’s your job to provide them with the tools they need to advance.

A culture that fosters empowerment and accountability motivates people to find their own solutions and make a difference. Enhance this by giving people as much authority as their abilities allow. Let them suggest improvements to their processes, and authorize them to implement as many as feasible. This gives your people a greater sense of ownership—one of the greatest professional motivators.

Leaders who establish an excellence-oriented mindset provide these basic organizational benefits so their people feel valued and achieve short- and long-term success. Caring for your people raises their level of engagement by building strong bonds of trust, thankfulness and respect.

What do you think? Are you creating a culture of engagement? How have you made your employees genuinely feel valued? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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How Do You Measure True Employee Engagement?

MeasureHow do you measure true employee engagement in your organization?

Surveys and studies indicate global job dissatisfaction is at a two-decade high. Disengaged employees account for nearly 70 percent of the workforce, which significantly affects the bottom line, according to data from Towers Watson. They cause corporate income, earnings and profits to suffer to the tune of $500 billion each year.

Comparative surveys also indicate that leaders believe engagement is higher than it actually is. Appearances never tell the full story, contributing to this disconnect in perspective. Busy people are not necessarily engaged, rather, they may simply be overworked. Leaders struggling in a dysfunctional culture may not discern low performance levels.

I don’t find this surprising. When leaders focus more on managing tasks than on people, the disconnect widens. Staff attitudes and performance trend downward. Disengaged leaders beget indifferent employees. When an organization’s culture fosters disengagement, it’s ultimately up to leaders to take corrective action.

Conquer Disengagement

Many leaders fail to understand disengagement’s impact. They may not associate staff disengagement with overall inefficiencies, low productivity or reduced profits. These factors have a greater influence on corporate performance than the economy, market trends or competitive forces. I see an organization’s strengths and weaknesses hinge more on internal than external issues, most importantly the staff’s emotional health.

Dissatisfied workers simply don’t care as much as their satisfied colleagues. Their performance, efforts and concerns about company or customer well-being are marginal. When too many employees fall into the “disengaged” category, the outcomes we experience are predictable.

Many leaders believe transferring or dismissing troublesome employees is the most effective way to conquer disengagement. They see killing the problem as the simplest, quickest way of eliminating it. This may occasionally hold true, but it should never be one’s de facto approach. A culture known for high turnover will never inspire morale. Strong relationships are the key to overall organizational wellness and employee satisfaction. Enhancing relationships—not cutting them out—is the answer, and it takes hard work.

Leaders must focus on people, understand what they need, and motivate them to enhance engagement and productivity, notes leadership consultant Clint Swindall in Engaged Leadership: Building a Culture to Overcome Employee Disengagement (Wiley, 2011).

If you want to conquer disengagement, start by adjusting your mindset and focusing on two main engagement ingredients: caring about others and knowing how to reach them. You can cultivate significant improvements by being mindful of basic human needs and doing what you can to meet them. Start with the culture, recognizing that the traditional focus on programs and processes no longer works.

What do you think? What is the real level of employee engagement in your organization? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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Obsessive Workaholic:
When the Boss Asks for More

Obessive-Workaholic-TipsIt’s true: some businesses encourage obsessive work habits, or overwork, more than others. I’ve seen start-up employees, self-employed professionals and lawyers typically work 60 hours or more a week. It’s no wonder we develop obsessive work habits to the point of becoming workaholics. But what do you do when the boss asks for more? What do you do when you’re the boss?

I’ve been writing about this—how easy it is to get caught up in working long hours and obsessing about your job to the detriment of your health and home life.

Here is another example. Let’s say you’re already doing the work of two—or more—employees. What do you do when your supervisor starts to ask, “Oh, just one more thing…”?

I like what Robert DiGiacomo of Monster.com suggests: five ways to cope with the extra items on your list, without losing your cool or sense of well-being.

  1. Ask the Right Questions

Even if your work plate is full already, you want to avoid saying “no” when the boss approaches you with additional duties. Instead, engage in a dialogue about the specifics of the situation, asking questions about how long the new assignment will be and what is expected. Ask which of your other responsibilities should be assigned a lower priority because of the new task.

  1. Prioritize and Organize

Once you understand the scope of your expanded job description, ask the boss to help prioritize what must get done on a daily basis—and which projects can be deferred—and organize accordingly.

  1. Be Your Own Publicist

Be sure to speak up as you identify ways to streamline your department’s practices or improve the overall efficiency of operations. Do not be shy about how your contributions save time or money.

  1. Learn from Experiences

Share what you’ve learned taking on a new task or assignment. Ask for training if certain skills or a specialized certification can ease your ability to complete unfamiliar assignments, thereby demonstrating your commitment. The new skill set will help with job security if there is a round of job cuts.

  1. Take a Break

As you find yourself logging more hours, you need to take more—not fewer—breaks. Every 90 minutes or so, you should at least get up from your desk and stretch. Or better yet, take a 10-minute walk or grab coffee with a friend.

Ultimately, it is up to you to learn how to cope. You will be challenged to set boundaries, but nothing is more important if you want a career where you can grow and thrive. This is a key reason many people hire a coach as a guide to find the balance that is just right for their goals and purpose. What about you?

Some people live where they work. Others just visit.  ~ Seanan McGuire, author

What do you do to keep healthy work/life boundaries? Are you achieving better balance in 2018? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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From Obsessive Workaholic to Balanced Human Being

Obsessive-WorkaholicDo you feel as if you’re constantly playing catch up? Are fears of falling behind (or pressures to remain competitive) leading to more work hours? You’re not alone: in my work as a coach, my clients tell me they are often like workaholics, working long hours and at home nights and weekends, just to stay in the game.

I’ve even been told that their organization actually frowns on people who stick to a 40-hour schedule (or 50, or 55) and the promotions and good assignments go to those who come in early and stay late. Workaholism is a badge of honor.

It’s even worse among entrepreneurs and self-employed professionals.  Many start-up businesses encourage overwork and long hours including nights and weekends. A culture of being at the cutting edge in an innovative business and peer pressure makes it hard to say “no.”

Michael Grothhaus of FastCompany writes about Lucy Kirkness, a confessed ex-workaholic and founder of her own SEO and digital marketing consultancy, Little Digitalist. Kirkness bought into the typical fears that pervade the entrepreneur and startup worlds, including the myth that you have to work day and night just to get ahead.

Along with three other workaholics, Kirkness decided to shift priorities in order to find a way to thrive in professional life by setting work/life boundaries. Here is some advice from these ex-workaholics on how to work less and still get ahead:

  • Don’t be afraid to say “no” to clients
  • Trust that taking time to switch off completely will ultimately benefit you
  • Talk to your friends and family about your feelings regarding work
  • Learn to delegate tasks to others

Have you experienced a workaholic culture at work, where overworking was expected of you? What about where you work now? Are you expected to arrive early or stay late? Are those who work “9 to 5″ less likely to be viewed as team players?

What do you do to keep healthy work/life boundaries? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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Obsessive Workaholic?
5 Tips for Better Balance

Balancing Work And Private LifeDoes your organization (or manager) encourage obsessive work habits?

It’s not surprising. Much to the detriment of our health and well-being, many societies encourage, and even celebrate this type of behavior. Being a “workaholic” has become a badge of honor, one that unfortunately describes too many of today’s working people.

I’ve been thinking about this as I hear of people “lapsing” from their 2018 resolutions to develop healthier habits, work smarter, and cultivate balance for improved quality of life.

It reminded me of a report I read: In 2014, Gallup reported that the average hours worked by full-time U.S. Workers was 47 hours, 21% of respondents worked 50-59 hours, and 18% worked 60+ hours.

Since that survey was conducted, 25% of survey respondents reported working 45 – 59 hours/week, and 17% reported 60+. These figures show that half of people work over 40 hours a week.

But the number of hours worked is not necessarily an indicator of a workaholic. The term is used to refer to a negative behavioral pattern characterized by excessive time working, an inner compulsion to work hard, and a neglect of family and other social relations.

Workaholics often strain their personal relationships. After at, if you’re married to your work, how much attention can you give your partner? Instead of quality time with family and friends, workaholics constantly obsess about business, emails, phone calls and reports carried home. They end up not getting enough caring support, recreation, exercise, good meals, and sleep.

Research shows how damaging overworking and obsessing about work is to health. Why, then, do we do it? Is there another way to get the work done, get ahead, and avoid the health risks of heart attacks, anxiety, burnout, weight gain, and cigarette and alcohol consumption?

I’m curious: how many hours a week are you working? My clients tell me they often answer emails after hours and have been known to work during vacations. And they catch themselves thinking over work problems at home.

What about you? Are your work habits obsessive? How would better balance affect your work, your quality of life? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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Your Leadership Trust Quotient:
The Heart of the Matter

Leadership-Trust-QuotientAt the heart of the matter, your leadership trust quotient is directly proportional to your honesty, integrity, and humility.

I see this all the time in my work as a coach. If you want to raise your leadership trust quotient, take a hard look at your honesty and integrity.

Leaders who are being true in what they say and true in what they do are trustworthy. You see, when you are beyond reproach, people know your actions and decisions are not selfishly motivated; they don’t need to be suspected. If you live out truth and integrity with transparency, holding yourself accountable to everyone, your people offer you their trust.

Integrity also means giving of yourself for the benefit of your people. Trustworthy leaders place a higher priority on the welfare of those they lead. People know they are in good hands, with a noble cause underlying their efforts. Often that requires courage, and this is another trustworthy trait.

The Heart of the Matter: Humility

Humility has nothing to do with being meek, weak, or indecisive. It is not mere courtesy or an especially kind and friendly demeanor. Nor does it necessarily mean shunning publicity or the spotlight. Read More »

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How to Raise Your Leadership Trust Quotient

Leadership-Trust-QuotientHow high is your leadership trust quotient? Let me ask you this: is there room for improvement?

The primary leadership mindset needed to establish and build trust is a genuine focus on people through four basic elements. The first element is to offer assistance.  I wrote about this in my last post. Your people will know they’re being taken care of when they are consistently helped. This fosters security and confidence, which builds their trust. Read More »

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Your Leadership Trust Quotient

Trust QuotientHow high is your leadership trust quotient?

Trust has long been considered a powerful trait that enables leaders to succeed. I see it all the time: people who trust their leader are willing to follow them. They are more willing to engage their duties, make strong efforts to benefit their organization, prize the quality of their work, and feel like their efforts have value. Conversely, a leader who is not trusted can never overcome large, inevitable pitfalls. Read More »

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Overcome the Odds:
Master the Leadership Superpower of Perseverance

Leadership Superpower of PerseveranceEven Superman had his struggles—Kryptonite, for one—but as the greatest executives, leaders and super heroes know, the best superpower to overcome the odds is perseverance

As I wrote in my last post, perseverance can be learned and mastered if you make the commitment and accept the challenge. Learning means taking one small step to become proficient in the next one. No one can change his or her character in one leap. Here are two more steps to master perseverance: Read More »

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