Tuesday, August 13, 2019

5 Ways Management Styles Impact Employee Engagement

It’s been said that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. In fact, according to a Gallup study found in Gallup’s 2017 “State of the American Workplace” report, 51% of currently employed adults in the US say they are searching for new jobs or watching for new job opportunities. Some of the ship-jumping is due to a particular management style. That doesn’t mean that a particular management style will be detrimental to your workforce, but that some management styles may not be conducive to a specific workforce. The ultimate goal we should all strive for is to adopt a management style that improves and increases employee engagement. 

Another Gallop study found that 70% of employees in America are disengaged costing the US over $550 billion a year in lost productivity. To keep employees engaged requires looking at the workforce and work processes from various angles to determine what could be improved, changed, or simply eliminated to increase engagement. Many areas such as empowerment, work environment, reward processes, and others should be analyzed regularly. But one area of concern that can be dealt with immediately and that will provide instant results is that of management style.

The Styles
There is a time and place for all management styles. No style is good or bad, but it is how and when leaders use them that determines success or failure. Understanding your style of management and how it impacts employee engagement is crucial to the success of your company. What follows are five management styles typically associated with almost every type of business. Depending on where you research, most of these styles can be found to some degree in every organization—and some have different headings, but most styles fall under these categories.

1. Autocratic Management Style
The Autocratic Management style is a traditional style that has been around for a very long time. This is the style that allows the manager to have a “Because I told you so” mentality. In some situations, (think military or firefighting situations), that demand error-free outcomes, this style may be applicable, but is not the best style to be used on a full-time basis. The Autocratic manager doesn’t solicit input from others, believes rules are extremely important, and dictates all methods and processes. 

An example of an Autocratic style is Sam Walton when he was building his Walmart empire or Football legend, Vince Lombardi when he coached the Green Bay Packers. This style was needed to for streamlining processes and growing a customer base. The Autocratic style has proven useful in factory settings or jobs requiring few skills, but is being phased out as managers realize that to create future leaders within the organization, a new approach should be adopted. When the Autocratic style is used in small does as in heavy industry or emergency room situations, it is useful, but it should only be added as cumin is added to dishes when cooking—too much will ruin the outcome. A full-time Autocratic style is not conducive to increasing employee engagement. Use it only as needed.

2.) Coaching Management Style
With the Coaching Management style, the manager helps team members develop their strengths to improve performance. It is a style that motivates employees by providing tools and resources for growth. This is a favored management style for improving employee engagement. The Coaching manager says, “Let me show you how it’s done.” Examples include Tony Hsieh’s style of guiding his customer service team at Zappos or as how philanthropist Andrew Carnegie  coached Charles Schwab who would become the first president of US Steel.

To build Coaching Management style muscles, you must first build a relationship with your team members. According to a Harvard Business Review article, you must, “Understand that before you start coaching, you need to develop a culture of trust and a solid relationship with the people you will be coaching. In spite of your good intentions, all the techniques in the world will make little difference if those you are trying to coach don’t feel connected to you in some way.” 

3.) Affiliative Management Style
First coined by Daniel Goleman in 2002 as one of his six leadership styles, the Affiliative style manager strives to create harmony, not just between employees and manager, but between employees. This style of management puts people first and tasks second. It is very useful in creating a more harmonious work environment and therefore opens pathways to a more engaged workforce. 

Obviously less stressful than the Autocratic Management style, the Affiliative style has its downside when performance falters or a project deadline isn’t met. It’s hard to keep the friendly, people-first attitude without accountability when profits are down. This style is good to adopt and one way to increase it’s effectiveness is to strive to know your team members to build a relationship that caters to their needs while still getting the work done. Former manager Joe Torre of the New York Yankees displayed a Affiliative style recognizing the various contributions of individual players, and then expressing his gratitude for the talent regardless of the score in the game.

4.) Participative Management Style
The Participative Management style encourages the involvement of employees in analyzing problems and strategizing for solutions. Because it creates a sense of ownership in the company, instills a sense of pride and motivates employees to increase productivity in order to achieve their goals, employees become more engaged in their work. Employees feel like they are a part of a team with a common goal, and this builds their self-esteem and generates pride and loyalty.

If you want to create an atomic reaction in your employee engagement, embrace the Participative Management style. To do this, you must be secure in your position and be willing to relinquish some control to your employees. This is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you’ve held most responsibilities close to your chest for a long time, but with an open mind and trust in your team members, it is worth letting go.

When Steve Jobs was fired from his job as leader of Apple, he was using an Autocratic style of leadership. When Jobs was brought back in the mid-1990s, he had adopted a more Participative style, hiring experienced leaders and giving them room to shine. With this style, Apple soared to even greater heights than before as employees were empowered to make decisions. 

5.) Pacesetting Management Style
The last style, as listed in Daniel Goleman’s book, Primal Leadership, is Pacesetting Management style. This is when the manager sets the pace for others to follow. Employees get motivated to keep up with the manager increasing performance and output to please the manager. As Goleman writes, “The [pacesetting] leader holds and exemplifies the highest standard of performance. He is obsessive about doing things better and faster and asks the same of everyone. He quickly pinpoints poor performers, demands more from them, and if they don’t rise to the occasion, rescues the situation himself.”

This style serves as a great motivator, except for the ones who fall behind and is short-lived in serving as a style to increase employee engagement. The long term effect leaves employees exhausted and feeling as if they’ve been pushed too hard. It is useful in spurts and is dependent on the culture of the organization and the products or service they provide. Use cautiously and when conditions are right for an all-out sprint. 

With the Pacesetting style, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric comes to mind. Welch vowed to lead by example and encouraged his executives to do the same. Welch, nicknamed “Neutron Jack,” managed by what he coined the four E's of leadership: energy, energize, edge, and execution. Employees followed his pace and GE excelled to greater heights under his leadership. 

Hone Your Style
Obviously, the manager relationship is highly correlated with employee engagement. A good marker for the strength of the relationship is how comfortable an employee is approaching their manager with any type of question. One example of this is the subject of goal setting. A Gallup survey uncovered that when employees were asked to rate their feelings on the statement, “My manager helps me set performance goals,” 69% of employees who replied “strongly agree” were considered engaged in their work, compared to 8% who responded “disagree” or “strongly disagree.”

The best managers seem to adopt a few attributes of almost every style listed above to use in various situations. But management styles don’t just happen. Managers are made, not born so consistent quality training is required to hone a great management style. According to a Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) article, “Developing and Sustaining Employee Engagement,” middle managers need to be trained for their roles, empowered by being given larger responsibilities, and more involved in strategic decisions. The article states that if an organization's executives and HR professionals want to hold managers accountable for the engagement levels, they should:

  • Make sure that managers and employees have the tools to do their jobs correctly.
  • Periodically assign managers larger, more exciting roles.
  • Give managers appropriate authority.
  • Accelerate leadership development efforts.
  • Ask managers to convey the corporate mission and vision and to help transform the organization.

The Goal is Engagement
Learning what styles are most effective for engaging your workforce is crucial to your organization’s success. In a recent Forbes article, former Navy SEAL, Brent Gleeson writes that great managers ensure they acquire and develop great talent by getting the right people on the bus and making sure they are in the right seats. They actively prioritize engagement. Their team’s activities align perfectly behind the mission narrative of the organization.

The management style you use is dependent on the circumstances you and your team may be encountering at that precise moment. Is there a need to be more autocratic because a crisis is at hand? Is it time to set the pace or is this a situation where coaching is more appropriate? Often managers must take on the role of a chameleon and change colors as the environment changes. But the ultimate goal of any style is to aim for 100% employee engagement.

Read more of my management articles at Bonus.ly

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Being In Great Company

Being in Great Company: Finally Reaching the Elusive Goal of Employee Engagement

Every company worth its salt is trying, or should be trying, to reach 100% employee engagement. If you’ve been a business leader long enough, you know there are no shortages of how-tos for obtaining the elusive goal of employee engagement—even if successful for only a small percentage of the workforce. There are books, classes, seminars, and consultants all offering touchy-feely practices for getting employees to fall in love with their jobs. 

Unfortunately, they don’t work, at least not for the long term. According to Gallup’s recent State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees in the US are not engaged or actively disengaged at work resulting in an estimated $7 trillion in lost productivity. The antiquated use of annual reviews and performance appraisals still in use today don’t, and cannot, provide the interconnectedness of work and life that employees crave today, and the newer, feel-good BandAid tactics only inflame a stronger desire for something real. 

The 25 years experience I’ve received as a business writer and consultant qualifies me to say that this shilly-shally approach to employee engagement sucks. It simply doesn’t work on a permanent basis. Any positive changes to the workforce in respect to employee engagement hasn’t gone deep enough to impact company culture, nor has it provided any real solutions to the core of the employee where it counts—the heart. 

And what about culture? Are the yoga classes, free afternoon massages, and game rooms really what constitute a company’s culture? I’m certain it helps employees relax and offers the impression that the company does care a little about work-life balances. But a recent Harvard Business Review article titled, “Why Employees Leave Great Cultures,” addresses the issue of companies that espouse to have a great culture, but really only provide window dressings. In fact, for many organizations looking to hire in the current great economy with a shortage of qualified applicants, bragging about culture appears to be the winning tagline. 

Prolific Approach to Employee Engagement
Thankfully someone has provided a breakthrough in achieving the ultimate goal of employee engagement. Louis Carter, founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, has come up with a new approach to employee engagement that addresses the emotional connection employees have with one another, and with supervisors, managers and leaders that truly alters their perception of the workplace. It is a highly effective approach that is generating more fruitful employee experiences and producing greater engagement. 

Generating a disruption of sorts, Carter has provided a revolutionary approach for getting employees— in fact everyone—deeply engaged in the work they perform. In his new book, In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace, Carter shares how it is possible to create a business atmosphere where employees are so deeply engaged that they love performing at their job everyday. 

Carter’s background as an organizational psychologist, an executive coach, author of several books on best practices and organizational leadership, creator of a social networking, on-demand learning and benchmarking tool, with accolades from Human Resources Executive Magazine and others, I figured he was probably offering more in the way of solutions to achieving employee engagement than others have in the past. He has after all provided HR solutions to the C-level of companies like Kimberly Clark, Roche, Shire, the Pentagon, and the United Nations. 

Finally, after all these years and with a glimmer of hope, I had to connect with Mr. Carter to see what is new that others may have missed in the chasing of the dream of having employees who are engaged in their work:

What exactly is it like to be in great company?
You are In Great Company when you experience a spark that lights your desire for peak performance. The spark originates from the deep connection you feel to the people you work with, with your customers, and with your company. It is reaching down to the emotional core of the individual and touching that part of what drives them.

Okay, I’ve heard similar strategies in the past. How do the concepts of In Great Company differ from others who have tried in vain to reach a certain level of connectedness?
In my research for In Great Company, I polled 100 major executives and asked, “What is the one factor you need most from an employer to motivate your job performance?” Nearly 90% answered that the one thing that would motivate them is a feeling of respect. After more research and probing for a more defined definition or reason for respect, and asking executives to define respect for me, the number response is that respect is directly related to a feeling of emotional connectedness. 

But how does one achieve that emotional connectedness? 
You can achieve emotional connectedness by aligning your values with colleagues you work with. By making an effort to collaborate, co-creating a positive future for all involved, everyone begins focusing on achievement while giving respect to one another. When this dynamic is set into motion in the workplace, everyone becomes aligned and willing do whatever it takes to preserve and grow the business together. 

What are some tips you can give for getting this emotional connectedness started in any organization?
There are several I have listed in my book, In Great Company, but I’ll share three with you here. The first one key element for generating emotional connections is to make an effort to align values. This happens when leaders and peers all embrace common values, and everyone holds each other equally accountable. Some everyday practices include things as simple as doing what you say you are going to do or speaking truth instead of avoidance, and more conceptually complicated practices such as living the values and ethics the company espouses. Good leaders know that the people they are leading are watching them. They are watching how you work, how you talk, and if you walk your talk. Honesty is the very first step to aligning values.
The next key element is showing respect. Companies such as Starbucks, SolarCity and Warby Parker, are just a few that practice this concept. Studies show that employees who are respected love their workplace and are more engaged and loyal to the organizations where they work. When employees are treated with respect, they have more confidence, they provide more of themselves to the company, and they reciprocate in kind. 

The third key tip is create and communicate a positive future. Employees are in great company when they work in a environment that communicates positive messages about where the company is now and where it wants to go. People want a reason to get up and go to work other than a paycheck. Because positivity is a cultural contagion, emotional connectedness is achieved when individuals use it in a unified way to move forward together to achieve results. 

I like the concepts you offer, but wonder why so many organizations are not applying these ideas.
There are many organizations that are adapting these concepts to their businesses, and I mention several in the book. But unfortunately, there are still many that believe a salary increase, bonuses, flextime, and other perks are the where they should place their efforts. Of course, some of these things do work, but only temporarily. They don’t offer long-term solutions for obtaining 100 percent employee engagement. They are simply intermediate pacifiers that offer little in the way of emotional connectedness. 

My brief interview with Louis Carter uncovered some great pointers to achieving complete employee engagement. On the surface, many of his ideas appear basic in nature, and that’s probably because we have heard them at one time. For example, I remember as a child learning some of these same principles. But as we mature into adults, we all know how silly it is to think that showing respect for one another, working with a positive attitude, and aligning values for ultimate achievement really is. And that’s where the problem lies….

When we get too big for our child britches, we think we have all the answers and that leadership has to be complicated. Mr. Carter reminds us that to lead well, we must get back to the basics. Being human and working with humans means we must apply the human touch to leadership. If we want to create a great company and have our employees work in great company, it will do us well to heed this advice and apply these concepts. 

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