to the ExecuDome monthly series of practical solutions for today’s people leadership challenges – new ideas and tried & true tools you can put into practice in as little as 10 minutes a day! We hope you’ll blog your comments to make the series rich, practical and valuable. What do you want to hear more about? Back by popular demand, we’re kicking off with an article from last year.
November 2012 Newsletter: 10 Minute Tools for Great Employee Engagement
When Times Get Better, Will Your Best Be Gone?
|#1 COMMUNICATE: WHAT & WHY: NOT HOW
#2 KEEP THE “CON” IN CONVERSATIONS
#3. CHALLENGE THEM WITH TOUGH PROBLEMS
#4. SEE SHORT TERM WINS
#5. THINK Wii – FM
|#6. USE FLEXIBILITY AS CURRENCY
#7. PRAISE GOOD WORK EVERY WEEK
#8. DEVELOP WITH CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK
#9. HAVE A LITTLE FUN…..SERIOUSLY
#10. BE A ROLE MODEL
The bad news is this – losing your best people is still one of the most serious business risks managers at every level are facing; as employees gain confidence in a market upswing. At a time when the contribution of our top performers may be the most critical, rates of engagement — or willingness to go the extra mile — have fallen 12%-24%, according to The Center for Work Life Policy and Watson Wyatt. And company trust and loyalty is down over 40%!
Now the good news: even with reduced budgets and increasing workloads, you CAN re-engage your best and brightest. Research confirms that the largest predictor of whether talent will stay engaged & productive at work is still satisfaction with their immediate boss. Keep your stars by engaging yourself… in the disciplined use of critical people practices:
#1. COMMUNICATE: WHAT AND WHY…. BUT NOT HOW:
When times are tough, your stars need regular communication with their manager even more – and managers tend to communicate even less. Great managers know honest and positive communication doesn’t cost a dime and lets people know they matter, reduces fear and gives them needed information to do their jobs right.
· Tell your stars you need them and why – highlight their specific talents. Think your most talented people already know? You couldn’t be more wrong.
· Set and re-set expectations & priorities. Connect individual goals and organizational results – it’s easy to lose sight as the landscape changes. Then, move over and let your best decide “how” – and surpass your expectations. .
· Share the business rationale for company decisions. You don’t have to agree with everything, but do present a management perspective to keep top talent in the game.
#2. KEEP THE “CON” IN CONVERSATIONS: ASK ….& LISTEN:
Foster two-way communication and get the best from your best.
· ASK and be an ear for your best people to vent their anxiety about the uncertain times in your group and organization. Acknowledge the impact without adding your own complaints.
· Meet in person regularly with your best – formally and informally. Create “face-time” and increase work collaboration with low cost technology options. Use tools like Skype, chat, video conferencing, and others to “see” and make personal connections.
· Be a communication conduit – Meet often with your team to ensure consistent information exchange. Expand cross-department communication to improve collaboration around key interdependencies.
· Be available: Put an hour aside each week for unscheduled meetings with your employees.
#3. CHALLENGE THEM WITH TOUGH PROBLEMS
Involve your best people in the tough challenges you are facing and ask for their solutions.
· What ideas do they have for improving efficiency in your dept? Listen & try out their ideas.
· What do they want to do more of or learn? With fewer resources, there are always challenging assignments where your top talent can develop skills, solve company problems and get visibility.
#4. CREATE SHORT TERM WINS
In difficult times, having a short term focus distracts us from our anxiety and motivates high performers by letting them see the results of their efforts.
· Chunk longer term goals into short term results you can Celebrate.
· Stay more closely involved (not micromanaging!) and visible to keep focus and prevent panic.
· Seek out and Share success stories – and celebrate in appropriate ways
#5. THINK Wii-FM
Show you care about the person. Jim Harter of Gallup cites a caring relationship with a manager as pivotal in helping stars feel connected after a reorganization or when friends leave due to layoffs. Great managers get to know their people well, and reap the benefits of the extra effort:
· Get to know the Wii-FM – everyone’s favorite radio station – “What’s In It For Me.”
· Use the Wii-FM to do the right thing at the right time even with limited budget. Whether it’s a simple thank you, a challenging task, a much needed day off, a family night out or a helping hand on a late work night – what matters most (think motivates!) will be different for each individual.
#6. USE FLEXIBILITY AS CURRENCY
Flexibility is a hot resource these days. New computers, software tools, new office equipment are all nice, but think cheap! Flexibility has been proven to motivate top talent. A simple & formal flexible work program can be a huge boost to productivity while saving you money.
· Employees can concentrate without being interrupted. The water cooler rumor mill is significantly minimized.
· You give your best people control over their work environment – and they notice that you respect and trust them to know how and when to get their job done best.
*A note on salary – while not the key motivator for your best, pay can certainly de-motivate. Now is the time to review your overall compensation structure.
#7. PRAISE GOOD WORK & SAY THANK YOU EVERY WEEK
As you feel the pressure of more work and fewer resources, be careful to avoid focus only on the task at hand. Your stars are also feeling stressed and overworked – don’t add neglect! Pay attention to your people – Gallup cites recognition for doing good work as a distinguishing motivator for top talent – IF it is done at least every 7 days AND IF the feedback cites specific positive behaviors and impact.
#8. OFFER DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES & CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK
· Make a visible commitment to developing the careers of your top talent. Find out what kind of training and development programs exist in your organization.
· Encourage talented people to develop skills though volunteering and give them the time to do it. It is personally rewarding, offers a different perspective on work and can help rebuild a demoralized team.
· Develop a coaching relationship with your best – hone your coaching skills and provide regular feedback citing specifics:situations, observed behaviors and impact. Challenge them to stretch.
#9 HAVE A LITTLE FUN …..SERIOUSLY
Organizations today are tight on cash and big on stress. Top performers are burned out, fearful and distracted Great managers have a secret weapon – they leverage just the right amount of fun and enjoyment at work – into a highly cost-effective productivity tool. A management style that encourages Fun at Work:
· Jump starts creativity and finds innovative solutions to old problems
· Builds a resilient culture in ever-changing times
· Decreases employee health costs and stress related illness
· Increases employee teamwork
· Enhances #1 factor in customer satisfaction – employee “want to”
#10. BE A ROLE MODEL
Finding the positive in a tough situation teaches resilience to top performers and sets great managers apart. Accept that there are things out of your control and focus your efforts for maximum impact.
· Take care of yourself: focus on what you can control, set personal boundaries and set aside time for exercise, relationships and rejuvenation.
· Share the potential future – the colleagues you respect – the challenge – the reasons that keep you committed.
Happy Managing! I’d love to hear your thoughts, what you’ve tried, what works……. Ruth
NEW at Execudome
· TAPP – Talent Acceleration Program: high potential partner coaching: Summer, 2010
· Next month’s Newsletter: Managing Remotely for High Performance
May Reading List
· Top Talent, Keeping Performance Up When Business is Down, Sylvia Hewlett, HBS Press, 2009.
· Managing to Have Fun, How Fun at Work Can Motivate Your Employees and Boost Your Bottom Line, Fireside Press, 1997.
Fun Link of the Month: www.dumblittleman.com
1. Jay Conger, The Practice of Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Leader
2. Sylvia Hewlett, TOP TALENT, Keeping Performance Up When Business is Down.
3. Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations
Wall Street Journal; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122531548636981645.html