Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Applying Cookie-Cutter Business Practices to Improve Employee Engagement Doesn’t Work —- Just Being There Does

With all the talk, hype, suggestions, practices, and training that goes into employee engagement, I believe it is important that we first understand what is meant by employee engagement and from that starting point we can identify how our organization can improve this business concept.  In a nutshell, an engaged employee is one who is enthusiastic about his work and strives to do what is best for the organization.  We all want employees who are engaged and who work to serve the interest of our business, but what does it take to get employees not just engaged, but on fire at work?   There are three things your organization can do now to begin stoking a fire in your employees.

These three steps are simple, but often overlooked.  That is because many business leaders are looking to identify a problem with their employees when the first step should be to look inwardly.  Taking ownership of the responsibility for employee engagement is the basis for motivating employees to be engaged and setting your team members on fire.  

1.) Let your light shine.  A recent Gallup survey revealed that 70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” and are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive.  Currently, 52% of workers are not engaged, and worse, another 18% are actively disengaged in their work costing the US between $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity.

How about you?  Are you engaged?  Does your work energy exude a sense of engagement?  Leaders that walk the walk doing what they say their values are and working in line with what they say the company’s mission is, are more likely to have engaged employees that follow in their path.  

Look inward and see if there are areas of your work where you are not fully engaged.  Find out why.  It could be a lack of belief in one area of the direction of the business or a faulty understanding of the organization’s mission and vision.  Take the necessary steps to get back in the game.  Your team members are watching you.

2.) Talk about it.  Leaders that assume that their actions alone should be enough to inspire employees end up frustrated.  The smart players will talk it up with the troops taking every opportunity to discuss the direction of the company, various successes, and interesting challenges.  

In order to fan the flame of enthusiasm in your employees, it is necessary to communicate on a regular basis your vision for the future.  Weekly meetings, company parties, one-on-one meetings, and company-wide correspondence are just a few examples of tools you can use to help get your employees more engaged.

3.) Brag a little.  Don’t be ashamed to use peer-pressure to your advantage.  When you become aware of an employee’s success in a project or a customer service situation, broadcast it to the troops.  Share with everyone what that individual or team did to propel the organization forward.
The psychology behind this boasting session provides results that are twofold:  First, when others see what can be accomplished, and the positive reactions and consequences surrounding the outcome, they too want to strive for the same; and second, the team members being doted on now have internal flames that are burning all the more.  Acknowledging people is another way to ensure that your employees become more engaged in their work everyday.

These three steps are all controlled by you.  They are not a “formula of the day” to get employees  on fire and engaged in their work.  It is a foundational application that comes from within and one you can use to build upon.  Application of these three key points, that come from both the gut and the heart, will work in any workplace setting.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Exercise Your Mind

"You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort and money into training, grooming, and encouraging your greatest asset."   --- Tom Hopkins

In the hustle and bustle of running a business, a lot of things can get overlooked--- some of them intentional and some just because there is never enough time to cover everything.

One of the most commonly overlooked, and that results in one of the most destructive actions, is omitting our own personal development plan.

This can be a costly mistake because of all the people in the organization, we are looked to for answers and are expected to provide direction and leadership.  This can be difficult to do if we are not at our best.

In order to stay sharp and at our finest, there are three things we can do on a regular basis to feed our minds and increase our leadership knowledge and skills.

1.) Be a Reader.  If you are not currently a reader or read only occasional magazine articles, consider upping your reading materials.  You may have heard it said that good leaders are good readers.  It could be that you feel you don't have the time to sit down and read a book, but you may be surprised to know that simply 15  minutes of reading per night should put you through a handful of books per year.  

Pick up some good books on leadership and begin applying tips and strategies that will help you to become a better leader.

2.) Connect with Other Leaders.  Pick one or two Meet and Greets in your area or visit a Chamber meeting to connect with leaders in your community. Those events are a good place to start, but if you are like me, you may find it more beneficial to have one-on-one meetings with another leader to foster a long-term relationship.  These meetings help you gain new insights and perspectives that you might have overlooked.  Your feedback can do the same for the other leader as well.

3.) Share Your Leadership Skills.  This tip doesn't seem like it will be too helpful on the surface, especially since you are trying to improve your skills, not share them.  However, sharing what you've learned helps to solidify your knowledge and provides a platform to analyze your knowledge and skills as you share with others.  There are several ways you can do this:  You can become a mentor to someone either within or outside of your organization; you can join a trade group or other gathering where you can be the guest speaker sharing your knowledge; you can offer your insights in written form by getting published in newspapers and magazines; or you can volunteer for a charity organization using your leadership skills.

Sharing your leadership skills and knowledge is a great way to expand your learning and hone your skills, talents, and abilities.  You will learn what works and doesn't work and you may even find that what you once believed about leading an organization no longer applies.

Try implementing all three of these strategies this quarter and begin feeding your mind.  You will find these tips will provide you with a refreshing new way of looking at leadership and what you have to offer to your company.
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