“If we improved any single process in our business by just 1%, or even 0.1%, but we did that every single day – what do you think the effects would be in a month? In a year? In five years?”
Are you looking to assure more successes with sales, profit, satisfied customers and employees, promotions, bonus or more? Do you know the formula for success and have you mastered the art of achieving success? We all know what we want to do and maybe what we should do, however, do we have the behaviors and the know-how and support needed to achieve real success?
There are four key components to being highly successful. Those are:
The Want To!
The What To!
The How To!
The Where To!
If you have ever played organized sports you know what it’s like to have a coach encourage you and help you understand the rules, strategy, plays and the behaviors necessary to be successful in that sport.
Business is the same. Be it building teams, managing people, successful sales, career advancement, project management, profitable operations and projects and more we all need a valid success formula and the support to achieve our goals and objectives. It’s a team sport! If it was all so easy, then why aren’t you already getting the results and rewards you deserve?
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If you’re interested in learning how this success formula can help you get more from what you already have, then give me a call today at 713-249-9569. I guarantee it will be life changing for you and your business results!
It can’t be forced. It doesn’t have to be complicated. And…it’s largely in your control.
Companies spend time and money to measure, maximize and promote, often with posters and making impressive-sounding proclamations. Yet they rarely encourage leaders to do the simple, everyday things that make a sustained difference.
This article highlights what great leaders do to create an environment that inspires all employees to be their best. Emphasis on “inspires,” as you can not coerce engagement. Emphasis on “best,” as most employees are hungry for work that maximizes their strengths and challenges them to improve.
A seminal report by the Conference Board summarized findings from a number of research studies on employee engagement. They define employee engagement as “a heightened emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has for his/her job, organization, manager, or co-workers that, in turn, influences him/her to apply additional discretionary effort to his/her work.”
The report also found that the most powerful driver of employee engagement is the employee/manager relationship – specifically, managers who care about their employees’ well being, foster trust, and lead with integrity.
In the quest for true engagement, what matters most are leaders who are tuned in, turned on, and who consistently call forth the best effort and best attitudes of employees. And not only does this pay off big time for the organization, but it pays off big time for YOU as well!
So, if you are ready to improve business results and eager to retain top talent, then you are ready for the 5-A Model for Engagement. It details specific tools and practices to cultivate personal and productive employee relationships.
5-A MODEL for Engagement
1. ALIGNMENT: Fit of employee talents and capabilities with role
2. ATTENTION: Ways a leader pays attention to employee
3. ATTITUDE: Positive thinking and positive guidance for positive outcomes
4. APPRECIATION: Cultivating and expressing gratitude and recognition
5. AUTHENTICITY: Leading in a way that is true to one’s own unique strengths, personal style and professional perspective
Alignment addresses the fit between an employee’s strengths and interests with their job responsibilities. For many people I’ve coached, their biggest challenge is that they are asked to do what they cannot do or be what they are not, and the individual is seen as having a “performance issue” rather than being in the wrong job.
So the first task if you want to engage your employees is to be vigilant about uncovering, articulating, and advocating their strengths. This is not always as simple as it sounds. Most managers are trained to find and address what’s lacking in an employee. But research tells us, that we would be wise to spend our time developing and utilizing a person’s strengths as opposed to eliminating their weaknesses.
Additionally, employees feel better and do better when their strengths are aligned with their work. In fact, using the other 4 A’s in this model – and not aligning an employee’s skills and interests with the work – will not result in full engagement.
Tips to Create Alignment:
Two of the many tools on the market that help capture strengths I recommend are: StrengthsFinder found in the book, Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, and VIA Signature Strengths survey which is free and can be found at http://www.viasurvey.org
Ask your employees, “Tell me about a time when you felt most engaged at work…what was happening? What skills were you using?” Ask your employees, “Do you feel you have a chance to use your best strengths in your job?” When promoting or moving people into new roles, ask yourself if the employees will still have a chance to use their strengths. This is especially important when promoting stellar individual performers into management positions.
Attention includes the physical and non-physical ways you focus on employees. Your most valued resource is your attention. And the quality and nature of how you pay attention speaks volumes about you and the value you place on your employees. Paying positive attention to your employee’s strengths and interests is critical to engagement.
Additionally, you should also look at all they do right, their career ambitions, families, hobbies, concerns, goals. Even employees who prefer some privacy appreciate your asking.
Body language is BIG. Notice how you physically give attention to your employees. Do you use their name when speaking to them? Do you look them in the eye? Shake their hand? Restate what you hear them say? Do you show up at meetings on time? And very important, when in group meetings or one-on-one discussions, do you eliminate distractions like email and phone calls?
Tips for Giving Attention
Turn off all appliances and tune in to your employees.
Ask employees about their career ambitions, hopes, and fears.
Ask employees about their outside interests and families.
Make eye contact and use the name of the person you are speaking with.
Give employees at least 3 positive statements for every critical one.
Say good morning and good evening.
Celebrate the good stuff!
The two key behaviors that contribute to displaying and inspiring a positive attitude are positive thinking and positive feeling.
With positive thinking, you approach challenges from a realistically optimistic perspective rather than a pessimistic or victim-oriented one. Realistic optimism doesn’t mean denying problems: It means applying your efforts – and the efforts of others – on what you can control, expecting that by doing so the future will be better.
Pessimistic managers see organizational challenges as pervasive and out of their control, “I’m such a bad manager. This company is going down hill.” Realistically optimistic managers see challenges as opportunities, consider the bad stuff as temporary, and believe in their own resourcefulness and the resourcefulness of others. “It’s true that we’re going through a rough patch. Now what can we do to make it better?”
While some leaders tend towards pessimism or optimism, anyone can choose an optimistic approach to work. Doing so not only feels better but results in better outcomes. Employees want to be engaged with positive people and rewarding endeavors. You must lead the way.
Second, use positive emotion to promote useful outcomes. We all recognize that the simple cold is quite contagious. What is less obvious is how contagious a bad mood can be — especially when it belongs to the manager. Science has established that like physical viruses, moods are indeed contagious. Additionally, negative feelings such as anxiety and anger not only feel bad but shut us down and close us off to new ideas; we become less creative and resourceful.
Barbara Frederickson developed a “broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions” that finds that “There is now hard data showing positive emotions give us access to cognitive, social, psychological and physical resources. In other words, they make us smarter, more creative, more social, and healthier.” And not surprisingly, people in positive moods are more liked by others and more open to ideas and experiences (Frederickson, 1998). The bottom line is that negative emotions tear down — positive emotions build up.
This research, and our own anecdotal experience, suggest how leaders lead and employ smart behaviors that you can use to enhance your — and others’ — emotions.
Tips for Creating a Positive Attitude
·Before going into a meeting, ask yourself what kind of attitude will help work get done at the meeting. The answer will lead you to some ideas for how you want to behave.
·Ration the time you spend with people with negative attitudes.
·Ask yourself and/or your team, “What’s in our control?”
·If someone responds negatively try saying, “That may be AND…”
·To promote positive feelings in yourself, consider the following 5-minute attitude adjustment activities:
oPay attention to your thinking
oGo for a fast power walk in the parking lot
oSpend a few minutes paying attention to your breath
oWrite an email to yourself stating what your goal is and note what thoughts and feelings will assist you in attaining
oLook at a picture of your family or favorite vacation spot
oAnd yes, one of my clients played the theme song to Rocky every time he wanted to psyche himself up for a big
meeting or moment.
“The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated” – William James.
Not only is appreciating a smart strategy for engaging others, but taking time to deeply appreciate what we have fills our tank as well.
You might be thinking that cultivating appreciation is well worn advice–something we heard from our parents or teachers. And that may be. But good common sense is often uncommon. Further, while appreciation is indeed an underused strategy for engagement, there are actually many barriers to practicing it.
For starters, if you are like many leaders, you may consider yourself a high achiever. One thing we know about high achievers is that they are often focused on future goals. And that future orientation makes leaders vulnerable to not seeing all that is currently happening and all that has already been achieved.
Managers are paid to solve problems and put out fires. You’re quick to see what’s not working rather than what is working. You usually look three steps ahead. Again, this tendency can come at the expense of appreciating people now and accomplishments now.
And it’s easy to rely too heavily on reward and recognition programs instead of smaller, sometimes more impactful displays of genuine appreciation. Employees make countless contributions made by employees every day that may not merit formal recognition, but without them we and our organizations could not succeed.
And the last barrier to appreciating is simply the pace of our lives: We forget to stop and appreciate.
Tips for Cultivating Appreciation
·Start or end your meetings with “thank you’s” or personal acknowledgments, (even better if you invite everyone to join in).
·Keep a supply of monogrammed note cards in your desk and make it a point to write a few each week.
·One client enjoyed keeping 10 pennies in his left pants pocket, and every time he gave a sincere acknowledgement he moved a penny from his left pant pocket to his right pant pocket. His goal was to have all 10 pennies moved by the day’s end.
·Spend 5 minutes at the end of each week writing down what you appreciate that week – feel free to include non-work happenings, and by all means, feel free to engage your team and/or your family in the activity. As they say, “What we appreciate appreciates…”
·Leave a note somewhere reminding you to be appreciative.
·And lest you think showing appreciation is just something for the good times – it is even more important when things don’t go well. Consider the manager who when his team was faced with a setback, instead of pointing fingers, asked, “What’s here for us to learn? What can we appreciate about this challenge?”
Being authentic means expressing yourself in ways that are in keeping with your own authentic style and temperament and with a sincere desire to make your relationships work. Employees can see through technique, so by all means adapt these suggestions in ways that feel good to you. The only caveat is if for instance you recognize an opportunity to be more appreciative, and choose to use a new behavior such as sending thank you notes, realize that at first it may feel awkward because it’s new – which is different from not being authentic.
Tips for Cultivating Authenticity
·Clarify and articulate your core values – use them as anchors and guideposts to inform your leadership actions.
·Tell the truth — and if you don’t know, say so.
·Tell personal stories that demonstrate times you have overcome adversity, managed change, or accomplished an important goal.
·Invest in your own development – know and claim your strengths and weaknesses.
·Honor your commitments.
·Lead by example.
So What’s in it for You?
I love win/win/win propositions, and the good news is that using these 5 A’s of Engagement results in increased engagement for your employees, your company and you!
Align people’s strengths to their job, attend to their needs with keen focus, bring a positive attitude (via thoughts and feelings) to work challenges, consistently convey appreciation for your employees efforts. Practicing these behaviors will inspire higher levels of performance, enhance retention and generate greater commitment to results. You will feel GREAT about yourself as a leader, and the increased commitment and contributions from those you work with will wow you! Promise. Now, here’s to you!
Conference Board Report: Employee Engagement: A Review of Current Research and its Implications, 2006. “What Good are Positive Emotions?” by B.L. Frederickson, 1998. Review of General Psychology, 2, pp. 300-319.
It is vital to have proper leadership coaching in an organization. It is unfortunate that in many companies, management teams have no clear understanding of how to lead. The default for them is to micro manage others by pushing out their chest feathers and showing “who’s in charge”. Hundreds of books exist on how to best lead a team of people and have an amazing concept between them; however you cannot effectively learn how to lead people from pages in a book.
The position you hold may hold a title of leadership, but it doesn’t mean that you automatically exude the leadership qualities. Keep in mind; even the largest corporations have CEO’s that do not know how to effectively manage others. Other employees of the company may have been with the company for 20 years and know their job inside and out. Does this mean they know how to coach others? It is important for a leader to gain respect, confidence and above all – TRUST – of their employees. What is the first two ways to do that? Treat them like a human; not a number and be able to do their job! If you are willing to do their job from time to time, they are willing to go above and beyond for you most of the time.
Do you need to be over 40 to be a good leader? Absolutely not! Age does not matter in the least when it comes to leadership skills. It has to do with personality. If you have the natural leadership qualities it takes to be an amazing leader, you don’t need to be 40. Quite a few 20 year olds hold an important leadership position! You see, a great leader is not noticed for the title, but for the ability to motivate the team consistently; one who is always searching for new ways to motivate and improve standards. In the effort to improve standards, the leader needs to identify weaknesses in the company and present and/or implement solutions to assist the company in gaining strength.
Another important quality of a great leader is education. Not the degree itself. It is all about the education on the company they work for and the understanding they have of all of the intricate details of the company. Without this, how could the leader make a well informed decision about the company that would benefit everyone? Is the leader able to adapt to any situation? In the corporate world, the fancy term is “change management”. There are those employees that are unfortunately labeled “change inept”. We think of them as those who will come close to having a panic attack and the mention of change. Why label them? Why not apply the leadership skills you have and work with them to make the transition as easy as possible?
Elle Wood recommends LeadershipIQ for outstanding leadership coaching. LeadershipIQ’s leadership programs deliver cutting-edge content with no fluff. Their leadership coaching is based on research, tackles thorny issues, is highly-interactive while making your leadership management more accountable with specific tools for immediate action.
We spend 40 . . . or 45 . . . or 50 . . . or more hours at work each week. Many of us spend more time with those we work with than we do our families. For us to be content and fulfilled people, that time must be valuable for more than a dollar. . .
We want to be engaged in our work. We yearn for work that is enjoyable, meaningful and engaging. When we are engaged we are safer on the job, more productive and more willing and able to delight Customers.
It is for these basic reasons that organizational culture matters. It is the right thing for an organization to do – to think about the work environment, working relationships and “how we do things here.”
Focusing on building and sustaining an organizational culture is one way of showing that people are the organization’s most valuable asset.
There are of course many other bottom line business reasons to focus on and build organizational culture. Here are seven of those reasons.
A strong culture is a talent-attractor. Your organizational culture is part of the package that prospective employees look at when assessing your organization. Gone are the days of selecting the person you want from a large eager pool. The talent market is tighter and those looking for a new organization are more selective than ever. The best people want more than a salary and good benefits. They want an environment they can enjoy and succeed in.
A strong culture is talent-retainer. How likely are people to stay if they have other options and don’t love where they are? Your organizational culture is a key component of a person’s desire to stay.
A strong culture engages people. People want to be engaged in their work. According to a Gallup survey at least 22 million American workers are extremely negative or “actively disengaged” – this loss of productivity is estimated to be worth between $250-$300 Billion annually. Your culture can engage people. Engagement creates greater productivity, which can impact profitability. Need I say more?
A strong culture creates energy and momentum. Build a culture that is vibrant and allows people to be valued and express themselves and you will create a very real energy. That positive energy will permeate the organization and create a new momentum for success. Energy is contagious and will build on itself, reinforcing the culture and the attractiveness of the organization.
A strong culture changes the view of “work.” Most people have a negative connotation of the word work. Work equals drudgery, 9-5, “the salt mine.” When you create a culture that is attractive, people’s view of “going to work” will change. Would you rather see work as drudgery or a joy? Which do you think your employees would prefer? Which will lead to the best results?
A strong culture creates greater synergy. A strong culture brings people together. When people have the opportunity to (and are expected to) communicate and get to know each other better, they will find new connections. These connections will lead to new ideas and greater productivity – in other words, you will be creating synergy. Literally, 1 + 1 + right culture = more than 10. How is that for leverage?
A strong culture makes everyone more successful. Any one of the other six reasons should be reason enough to focus on organizational culture. But the bottom line is that an investment of time, talent and focus on organizational culture will give you all of the above benefits. Not only is creating a better culture a good thing to do for the human capital in the business, it makes good business sense too.
Hopefully this article has helped you see that time spent enhancing your organizational culture will be time wisely invested. Regardless of your current culture, it is never too late to enhance it and to begin creating the benefits described above.