Employee engagement brings sense of ownership towards the organization
Engagement driven leadership is definitely a part of leadership by example or being a role model as an extraordinary leader. A leader without title still manages to create followers via engaging them and creating the importance of the presence. Many studies show that the more engaged the employee is the higher the chances of retaining them in the organization be it at emotional or at rational engagement Engaging employee and keep them motivated and retaining them in the organization is a challenging task for many.
Engaging employees is absolutely a topic of key concern among organization and talents and it sternly embeds with talent retention. An engaged employees have a great sense of ownership towards the organization and the leaders (role model), and most likely to stay longer than the other employees and contribute enormously both in their personal growth and to the organization’s success leading way to higher customer satisfaction as well as new businesses.
Leaders who fail to fulfill employee engagement soon or later have to follow the business nearest exit door. It’s time for leaders to establishing a robust reputation, attract and retain talents via in the business world of engagement as the core.
Digital integration to enhance customer relationship, employee engagement and business solutions
In SelfDrvn we work closely with renowned clients with a robust and noteworthy customer base coming from various industries and background. As we have established a solid relationship and significant reputation with our clients, they are always keen to share their engagement plan and strategy for digital integration purpose. One of the substantial learning point for us from these clients is how leaders and companies adopt and welcome ideas with open hands especially from the Gen Y. The ideas gathered through various channels such as organization climate survey, idea box, ongoing surveys and weekly/monthly meetings are then filtered by the cross teams and goes to the hands of the leaders for further engagement efforts. This clearly indicates the great importance that these leaders and organizations give to both employee ideas and concerns to further enhance customer relationship, employee engagement and business solutions.
Our client, Nettium has expressed that SelfDrvn tool has helped and supported the leaders in engaging employees especially the younger workforce. The gamification tool that we applied on them has positively resulted in leaders to be understanding their younger generation workstyle and needs, which further assisted them in solid and engaging management as leaders.
Another feature that Nettium has benefited from SelfDrvn is adopting the feedback culture embedded as one of our services to client. Employee perceive it as a 360-degree feedback tool that anonymously support in promoting the feedback culture in Nettium from their peers as well as managers. With such features, manager has embarked on their self-improvement based on the feedback given by employees and has strengthen their leadership skills along the way.
A good leader has the ability to champion this and manage it tactfully. In other words, engaging talents fuels leadership skills leading towards empowerment and retention at workplace. Extraordinary and successful world leaders involve their team and make them feel valued and engaged and part of the organization.
Transparency and rewards based leadership suits in managing the current generation workforce. Keeping this in mind, SelfDrvn has one of the features allowing employees to voice out their opinions based on the survey questions with point accumulation at the same time. These points later can be used for redemption and also use it for monthly auction purpose.
Leaders who build purpose of employee existence and work on on-going effort to engage them in the team and organization fuels sense of belonging to the organization. Employees feel connected and may be glued to such role models and those leaders always strive in engaging them in every single efforts and keep them informed.
Three key aspects of employee engagement – Motivation, Communication and Bonding
These factors can make or break working relationship and plays an important role in bringing employee under one umbrella within aligned core value and unified goals. An essential challenge is how leaders act as role model and drive the entire engagement efforts instead of being a components of engagement.
Failure to engage employee most likely leads to increased cost to the company and higher turnover. There are many leadership traits but an engaging leader is becoming more prevalent particularly in ensuring to accomplish task through employees and involved employee in. Can you recall the best leader you came across in your life? Was the leader engaging and uplift you and your career in the organization?
Start to Lead!
Faced with making a decision that could have potentially disastrous consequences, would you bite the bullet and take accountability? Or would you see how you could buy yourself a little more time, get just that little bit more information that will help steer you in the right direction and wait for more clarity? Often enough, if we have the opportunity to postpone or delay a decision, we would take it gladly, especially if it was critical enough in nature. Though a non-decision in many ways is still a decision, time and time again we see how fear drives us all.
Nobody wants to take the fall for making a bad call. Although our work responsibilities necessitate us making quick decisions, we tend to stall in hopes of more clarity and higher probabilities of success.
Facets of Making Effective Decisions
As leaders and managers, perhaps we believe we need to make all the decisions before us but that is not true. As leaders, our job is to lead and making decisions is but one facet of the role. But with decisions to be made across a spectrum of things, large and small, that may affect one or many across an enterprise, how are we to make good decisions?
The modern enterprise is fraught with many challenges. Layers of organisational hierarchy, informational siloes, an inundation of data from a variety of sources and all the trappings we as managers insert into our processes supposedly to help, not hinder, all contribute to make decision making into that nightmare many of us face on a daily basis.
How can decision making be stripped back to its basics so that it enables us to do what we need to do – making better decisions?
First, it starts with trust.
The entire point of hiring people is to help us get things done which necessitates managers getting out of the way once tasks are appointed. Trust that the people we’ve hired to help us grow our business can do the task set and let them get on with it.
Second, it continues with empowerment.
This necessitates a few things. Organisations need to arm their people with the skills and information they require to do their job. Clarity of objectives, effective planning and a proper handoff are all critical for achieving success. Empowerment also means a willingness to allow someone else to call the shots, make the big decisions and then to see how things transpire. In effect, there is an acceptance of the possibility of inherent failure because we do not control every aspect of the decision-making process.
Third, it ends with accountability.
Together with the trust and empowerment bestowed, is the expectation that the decision-maker is now accountable for what happens consequent to the decisions made? Why is accountability so important? Because someone must take the fall, must be held responsible. Because the buck has to stop somewhere. In our experiences within our own organisations and in the news we see, we note how organisations are increasingly complex, how individuals hide behind the corporate veil, how accountabilities are murky and decision making processes involve a ton of paperwork, governance and time. Can things be overlooked? Can disasters take place? Can lives be lost? Of course, which is why all decisions need to be supported by accountability.
Fourth, it involves building into the decision the action to carry it out.
What does this mean? As Peter F. Drucker stated in his 1967 HBR seminal article, The Effective Decision, “Converting the decision into action is the fifth major element in the decision process. While thinking through the boundary conditions is the most difficult step in decision making, converting the decision into effective action is usually the most time-consuming one. Yet a decision will not become effective unless the action commitments have been built into it from the start.” In other words, decision making is not just about theory – it is about doing what needs to be done to support the decision made.
Decisions without actions are merely empty words. Set an actionable plan from the start to ensure that decisions can be carried out quickly and effectively.
McKinsey in their work helping organisations become more agile, have found that it is possible to accelerate the improvement of decision making by categorising the types of decisions made – they’ve observed four types of decisions : big-bet decisions, cross-cutting decisions, delegated decisions and ad hoc decisions.
Decision-making, like many other things in life, require deliberate practice. More importantly, it also requires quiet reflection post-decisions so that thinking and actions can be reviewed for betterment. Decisions need to be tracked, feedback on decisions need to be sought so that relevant parties can take a look at both decisions made and the manner in which they are made.
Ultimately, good decisions are borne of experience and much as we don’t want to admit, many of these experiences are the result of bad decisions which we come to learn from.
You’ve worked nights for many days this month and at least three weekends in a row on a big project. You’ve shown the commitment and done the time but Peter, the project manager, has called you for a meeting and has started pointing out some errors you made and the things he is not happy with. Here’s the difference between feedback, and feedforward coaching.
Nobody likes to hear about their mistakes. The same goes to the person giving the sometimes necessary negative feedback.
Don’t they know how hard you’ve been working? Doesn’t it matter?
Naturally, you’re not happy with Peter’s focus on what does not work, even though he did sandwich the criticism between two positive comments. The good didn’t seem to matter. Why can’t he see all the work you’ve put in and recognise that?
This is the problem with feedback.
Feedback is typically focused on the past and mostly, on what is not working. Managers do not like to provide feedback and faced with the situation, would often sandwich negative feedback between two positive ones. The problem with that is that it has the tendency to reduce the impact of what needs to be said and often enough, comes across inauthentic.
Most of the time, negative feedback is sugarcoated, which can diminish the intended effect and create an environment of misunderstanding.
Looking back or looking forward?
The focus on the past also leaves you feeling disempowered. It has already happened and there’s nothing you can do to change that which naturally brings up a host of negative emotions – you feel helpless, upset, frustrated and uncertain as to how to move ahead.
The question you have to ask yourself is, “Are most people raised to accept criticism well?” You only have to look inward and realise from your own reactions and behaviour that criticism is hard to take. We see criticism as a threat, we get defensive and we react or hit back verbally (sometimes physically).
What’s the point?
The entire point of criticism is to learn from the past and change what we can about future actions. But if people are focused on the wrong things, then everyone loses. The manager does not get a person who has learnt from his mistake and that person is bound to repeat the mistake because he knows what is wrong but not necessarily what is right and what works.
As Joe Hirsch, author of The Feedback Fix : Dump the Past, Embrace the Future and Lead the Way to Change shares, there are three reasons why feedback does not work. First, it shuts down our mental dashboards – i.e. it becomes all about our emotional state and reactivity to what is upon us. Second, it focuses more on ratings than on development. This feels more like a test than a way to improve what we are doing. Finally, feedback reinforces negative behaviour because the focus is on what has happened.
So what can we do when feedback does not work? Here’s a hint: go forward!
This is where feedforward comes in as a bright and workable alternative to giving feedback. Feedforward is future-focused by allowing people to pay attention to what they can do differently in the future. It’s not only about what happened but what can be learnt and then adapted moving forward. It is positive, provides background information and options, makes suggestions for improvement and focuses on developing the person, not just rating them.
It also becomes less about feedback and more about coaching. By involving the person in the feedback loop, he becomes an active participant in the process, thus enabling him to feel more in control. As Marcia Reynolds explained in her article, Why Feedback Doesn’t Work, and What To Do Instead, people want “conversations that pull their ideas out and have their eyes opened to greater possibilities they could explore, not one-way directives focused on what they did wrong”.
Kevin Kruse, NY Times bestselling author (latest book, Employee Engagement 2.0) talks distinctly about feedforward coaching as a great tool for creating a more engaged workforce, specifically that it is a continuous process focused on future performance and career pathing. Engagement is then tied to growth.
How should you start?
- Focus on goals, not standards. This means articulating these at the start and being very clear in your communication about what is expected;
- Let the coaching include career guidance so that you focus on the skills, experience and expertise the individual needs to build upon to do their job.
- Anytime, all the time. Do not limit it to an annual review or set time. The more times these two way communication channels are open, the better the communication of expectations, of problems and issues that need addressing.
In the end, through active participation and a clear focus on the end objectives, you, your peers and managers can come to the realisation that feedforward presents the better alternative.
When we talk of feedback, most of the time, what we’re really talking about is our ability to deal with constructive criticism. No one has an issue taking a compliment but nearly all of us find it challenging to hear something negative about our personality, work style or behaviour.
It starts with truth.
Is feedback not working for you? Understand that our solutions lie not in the quality of answers but in the quality of questions we ask. Let’s examine some examples.
Asking a close-ended question with no consideration or empathy gives the impression that you do not care about your workers’ well-being nor current workloads. Even if the question was not designed to be insensitive, an external party could view it as a “no-excuses” obligation to say – “yes”, or a simple “easy-way-out” – “no”.
Leaders can instead ask an open-ended question with the simple addition of “How” in front of their prior question, opening the door for innovative answers and initiative. It also opens up avenues to be empathetic, in terms of catering to how employers can provide the environment or means to allow workers to take on more responsibility. Perhaps through more L&D events? A robust incentive program? This question invites such responses.
It starts with the truth, a recognition of what we see in front of us and a call for us to be honest about how this may make us feel about the people we’re managing and circumstances we find ourselves in. It calls for humanity, yes, humanity.
The thing about corporate life is that it puts a layer between you and your people. We call on this when we need help and when we’re in a mess. “Am sorry about this, my hands are tied. I wish I could do more.” “I’d really like to help you but my boss says this is how it has to be.”
When it comes to helping a colleague in need, too often we are jaded by the selfish demands placed on ourselves regarding our own responsibilities. Hence, we resort to putting up excuses instead of being honest with our colleagues.
What are we really protecting?
We hold on to this protective layer because it helps us out of tough situations. We’re busy protecting ourselves. But if we want feedback to work, we not only have to listen, we have to take action.
We have to show our people that we’re serious about what we want to discover and then remedy. When we show this to them, not through our words but in our behaviour, then we show our people that we mean what we say.
It is easy enough to see things from our point of view – it is the only view we know and are comfortable with, that we believe is the right view. It takes a big pause for us to step outside ourselves to look beyond at this wide, wide world and consider an alternative to what we’ve always seen and understood. So, “what’s not working?” is less about you see as the way things are and how things need to go and far more about what others see and make sense of things.
You owe a duty.
As an organisation, it is your duty, your responsibility to gather and provide feedback to your people. As an organisation, you should regard as serious, this opportunity to grow your people, to inspire them, to bring out the best in them and to lead.
Gather as much feedback on how you can help your employees grow, then deliver actionable behaviour to cater to those needs and wants.
As much as there are things you are expecting your people to provide you in terms of experience and expertise, they are also looking to you for guidance, hope and faith in carrying out their duties. And more than anything else, remember that they give you the best hours of their days and best years of their lives in the fulfilment of their obligations.
That is a lot.
Allow the space for providing and receiving feedback to be one that is less chastisement and more of support. Ask questions about what’s working so you know where you need to reinforce certain actions. Ask questions about what’s not working so you know what needs to be fixed. Ask questions about what’s challenging or frustrating them so you can see what support you can provide. Explore a variety of channels, both formal and informal, to collect and collate feedback.
Ask great questions for great feedback.
Marcel Schwantes, in his Inc article, Here’s how good managers give bad employees feedback, shares that good managers analyse the problem first in order to understand all perspectives. He shared four questions crucial to helping a manager and setting the right expectations and accountability measures with both parties :
- Does the employee understand what the problem is?
- Does the employee really understand that expected level of performance?
- Does the employee fully understand what will happen if performance standards are not met?
- Have you, as the manager, gotten all the facts? Who, what, where, when, why, and how?
Learn to read between the lines.
You’ve got to treat people the way you want to be treated too. Stay aware – learn how to open your eyes to the truth because there is no one version of the truth. We all bring different experiences and insights to our situations and no two situations are alike.
If you’re facing difficulty, you’ll want a good manager who can spot it early, who will come forward to talk about it. You’ll want a manager who is sensitive enough to know how, when and where to bring it up.
Ask the right questions. Be the support your team needs. Learn to read what your colleagues are telling you.
And you’ll want them to be more of a coach about it – asking probing questions, allowing you to come to the solutions yourself rather than being prescriptive and judgemental. Yet, on top of all of these things, you need to remember to stay compliant and stay legal. Do what you need to do and do it right.
A key element in navigating change is through learning.
When we look at the role of human capital within an enterprise, we understand and believe that it is human capital which is our greatest asset. Consequently, the key to meeting our strategic business goals and making progress lies in how we manage, inspire and bring out the best in our people.
As an enterprise, training seems to be the obvious answer to the questions of what and how. Training gives us the confidence that we are doing something, that we are addressing issues and taking charge. But this leaves us with one problem – training is a top-down approach.
Are your employees really fully engaged when it comes to training? Think about how you can
improve your programs from a fully top-down approach.
Shifting the focus
Yes, we can help to prepare our people to perform better and be more engaged but wouldn’t it help if we looked at ways where we put the learner in the driver’s seat as well? The idea here is that we continue to provide training in areas required but simultaneously, we create a culture where organisational learning is fostered, and one where the people themselves chart their path. This combination is significantly more exciting.
Take a look at Unilever. Betty Lau, Unilever’s Global Learning Director, Leadership and Business Skills has long been working on a move away from conventional learning towards persona-designed thinking. Why? To craft a user-focused personalised learning journey. It is a major shift in thinking but at the same time, she says it also provides a key point of differentiation.
Some key words to explore in that phrase – user-focused personalised learning journey. User-focused so that the emphasis is on the user, not the training provider. Personalised so that it makes sense to individual circumstances and is need-driven. Lastly, reference to the journey because it’s part of a bigger picture and not simply standalone, unstructured pieces.
Adopting a learner-centric approach
Alejandro Rivas writes about this (being learner-centric) as one of the 10 L&D trends for this year in his ATD article in January. He says, “instead of thinking about the content first, we think about the learner first: performance, experience, workplace, digital fluency… then, we can create an effective training with more collaboration and social activities in order to share experiences….”. The experience is also so rich in today’s environment as we pick between MOOCs (massive open online course) or classroom training, YouTube videos or shared social environments.
A variety of rich media is including in training today. Harness these solutions!
In today’s world, everything and everywhere presents a learning experience. The quicker we can get to a point where we foster more collaboration between IT and HR to work together and develop organisational plans that put the learner at the centre, the more we foster a culture of learning that works. It’s personalised, it’s driven by the user, it takes into account all kinds of environments and formats, which makes it more real, more dynamic and exciting.
Where to begin?
But any learning technology used needs to start with a plan which means asking the right sort of questions. What are my organisation’s learning and development goals? What is the role tech will play in this? What choices do I want to make? How much do I want to spend? What ROI will I be looking for?
Many of the L&D trends this year show how fast-paced these changes in our environment really are. While this can be dramatically unnerving in many ways and puts us in a situation of constantly playing catch-up, we can embrace the changes that make our lives, our workplaces and our people significantly better.
If you are looking to create a successful and productive team offsite, you may want to explore the following 7 ideas
- Open Communication
Announce to the team how this offsite team-building will actually improve business. Set up live business goals for the meeting – e.g. sales strategy and sales goals for the next year, new delivery of ideas, or product/service lines to roll-out.
2. Allow Time for Networking
There should be scheduled time slots throughout the offsite team-building duration to enable everyone to get to know each other. I recommend that “getting to know each other” activities need not be planned; instead teams should be doing this naturally. It could be a late evening sitting at the pool and chit-chatting, or having a round of “antakshri” or karaoke, whatever the team would like to do post the offsite day work!
Remember to set aside time for networking!
3. Build A Learning Mindset
Build their skills, and self-confidence by providing constant training. Hold weekly, or bi-monthly team workshops to teach systems and procedures for every element in your business. Teach your employees how to get the most out of the time and effort that they are putting in to reap the most rewards. Also, eliminate the need for guessing when it comes to difficult situations – create systems to specifically manage a crisis.
4. Reward the Results
Set clear and realistic targets for your employees, and keep it as transparent as possible. Targets are proven to motivate employees and give them something concrete to focus on. But don’t treat missed targets as an opportunity to punish your team; simply offer a reward (cash / kind) that will drive your team to meet the targets you set in the future. Check out this blog post for ideas on designing an effective employee rewards system.
5. Don’t Miss the Basic Needs
As an employer, the onus to provide a healthy lifestyle to employees is on you. Here are basics listed –
- Comfortable, clean and well-lit rooms and sitting place.
- Break areas.
- A place for quick power-naps.
- Flexible working schedules as the focus is on work, and not thenumber of hours.
- Robust recognition program.
Ensure the working environment is clean and comfortable to maximize employee satisfaction and productivity.
6. Offsite Events
Are overnight events allowing the team to enjoy and relax, having dinner, drinks, music etc, and truly bonding. In my experience, good teams tend to end up staying late, and talk over or brainstorming new, innovative solutions to recurring problems, and work through existing business problems. These sessions are invaluable as team members work together to work out existing problems, setting the scene for new opportunities, and building real relationships in the process.
7. Last But Not Least
Remember it’s important to keep the momentum rolling. If you fail to come out with an action plan, then you will plan to fail eventually. You may have a list of ideas from the offsite meeting, but have no clarity on executing them. Ensure that action planning is clear to all members with identified goals/actions, associated responsibilities, measurement criteria, and timelines of completion. And all of this is documented soon after the event.
This post was guest written by Saloni Kaul, a human resource specialist and corporate trainer.