Here we see how these talents actually fit together and support one another. If you have created outcomes and are driving your team toward them then being decisive based on performance (metrics) instead of politics becomes almost second nature. In fact being decisive seems far less difficult and "politics" becomes a non-issue.
Every Company Gets The Performance It Wants
When I talk about politics I use it in the more generic sense and really could be interchanged with "company culture". Culture or the ethos created by it (politics) is a direct result of what company leadership require and more importantly what they ignore. This is powerful. For example a company may give lip service to issues around safety but if they ignore or brush under the carpet safety issues in favour of increased profits they send a powerful message to their team about what is really important. In the oil patch even to this day there are companies that make so much money that issues of downtime and productivity are simply not important; the margins are so big. That is until the inevitable downturn hits but by then its too late. Downtime is accepted and with a wink and a nod the supervisor or operations manager says "well its the oil patch - crap happens!" What that really means is that they don't care or know enough to realize that they could be operating at much higher levels of performance. Leadership does not have to be decisive because nothing is being measured and there is more than enough padding in the profit margin to make up for those little mistakes. That is the type of "politics" I am referring to in our exploration today.
Decisive Leaders Are Disrupters
So prevalent is this attitude that client and service provider make allowances for it; that is until someone who is decisive comes in to disrupt the natural order of things. In one case the change was stark. Service crews were working for a client. The daily schedule allowed for an hour of maintenance every four hours or so. Often issues came up during those four hours and when it had nothing to do with this service provider then out came the computer games while they waited for whatever the issue was to be resolved. That is until one front line leader who was using outcomes to drive his teams performance decided that this was a horrid waste of good time.
Based on the data he was getting from his crew he calculated that there was quite a bit of maintenance that could be accomplished during these interruptions. This was a risk because he could be halfway through maintaining a piece of equipment and they could be called to get back to operations. But because of the input from his crew (their outcomes) he knew exactly how much time was needed and he didn't hesitate to talk to the site manager to confirm estimated down time for the issue and communicate to him what he planned to do.
What happened? It turned out the data he had was good and when interruptions happened his crew was prepared and went out to do maintenance. It was close sometimes but they were always ready to roll when the site manager asked them to. Here was the kicker; because they got so good at using these windows for maintenance they did not need the scheduled downtime! Of course the client was pleased as punch and suddenly what had been the norm (waiting out interruptions playing on the computer) quickly faded away and a new much more productive norm was put in its place. All because one front line leader made a decision and it paid off.
You Can't Have One Without The Other
It is important here to point out that this leader could never have made that decision if he had not already been driving outcomes with his team. Not only that but he could not have presented his case so effectively to the site manager if he hadn't had the data to back it up. You may want to be decisive but without the outcomes and metrics you are just taking chances. This is often where leaders who are decisive run into issues; upper management is not going to run with your "hunch" when you have nothing to back it up with. So you may be naturally decisive but you need that assertiveness and drive to outcomes to compliment it. You really can't have one without the other.
You may be reading this and saying to yourself that you want to be decisive but that the company culture or your boss isn't open to it. Do you have the data to support your position? If not then set about getting it with your team, work with them on driving to those outcomes and just watch and see what happens! Performance Leadership - Think About It!
The second leadership talent I want to explore is that of assertiveness. This is not the type of assertiveness that is brash and aggressive but rather a steady, unrelenting drive toward outcomes. It helps here to stop and explore what I mean by outcomes because depending upon your motivations those outcomes may be somewhat different. If, for example, your outcomes are career advancement and never letting anything "stick to you" those are not the outcomes we are talking about. Or if your outcomes are to keep you and your team safely under the radar so as not to attract unwarranted attention, play it safe and never stir things up then those are not the outcomes I am speaking about either. The outcomes I am speaking about are the ones you have developed for you and your team that not only align with company KPI's but also go the extra mile to explore ways to improve performance, add to the bottom line and enhance everyone's experience of being on your team.
You Need to Know
Of course what this suggests is that you have a clear idea of what outcomes you want. Too often we get the idea that good leadership is about doing your job, making sure your team does their job but really never exploring what goes into making that happen. A good symptom of that type of leadership is the recent phenomenon of companies abandoning their performance review processes. Don't get me wrong, there are many poorly structured performance assessment processes out there that don't do what they should (another symptom of this issue) but the bottom line is that they don't work because many in leadership don't know what they want as outcomes and thus find themselves grasping at straws when it comes time to assess performance.
Job descriptions are not outcomes they are simply a description of the job that person has been hired to do. Outcomes are more about how they do that work, how they contribute to the mission of the group, how they contribute to improving the work they do. For example a manager of an HSE group had a clear idea of the outcomes she wanted from her team. Their job descriptions were pretty straight forward in terms of ensuring their was compliance with the company HSE policies and that adequate training and onsite supervision were provided. This manager established outcomes that aligned with those aspects of the role and more. She began to require her team to establish their own outcomes such as determining success or failure rates of compliance initiatives in their area and all the reasons around those successes or failures. She had them start to track safety and environmental events both in terms of raw data but also using root cause analysis. And she required them to initiate discussions and training with operations leadership around behaviour based safety compliance related to the outcomes of those root cause studies.
Keep it Simple
What then were the actual outcomes she drove? Was her team counting? Were they counting compliance failures and trends? Were they counting safety and environmental events and trends? How many events had a root cause analysis done? How many recommendations and behaviour based procedural changes were brought forward to operations leadership and how did those changes impact the relevant trends around those types of issues? She had each of them tracking and reporting on these things and she and they knew exactly what they were driving for. What did she track? Aside from the data provided by her team she tracked how many times she asked for that information when meeting with them at various sites. She tracked how many had performed root cause analysis, how many had suggested procedural changes and how many had established positive working relationships with the operations leadership. As she shared with me, "It was slow at first but they knew every time they saw me that I was going to ask for their numbers and a run down of what was happening on their site. I knew it was starting to take when I would show up and they already had graphs and information up and ready to show me."
Don't Stop Requiring
Getting her team to drive to the outcomes she wanted is the kind of assertiveness that a good leader practices. She knew what outcomes she wanted, she made sure her team knew as well and that they developed their own outcomes that aligned with her goals and she made sure to hold them all accountable for those things. You might be tempted to think that no-one enjoyed working on her team but nothing was farther from the truth. They knew what was expected of them, they knew where they stood and how they were performing and they loved it. Whats more is they felt that they were no just "doing" their job they were excelling and making a difference.
How is your assertiveness in terms of driving your teams outcomes? Performance Leadership - Think About It!
This is the first in a series of discussions around the core talents individuals need to develop as part of becoming a high performing leader. These come from a list developed through research conducted by the Gallup organization around what talents folks need to have to be effective leaders. In fact Gallup is so compelled by their findings that they have now taken the position that leaders should be hired for these talents and not necessarily for their technical expertise in that given area. While it may seem radical it has certainly provided food for thought.
The first leadership talent is the ability to motivate others. The power of motivation is something that is found in novels and movies and stories around accomplishment. We love a good story where a leader motivates a group to overcome a challenge. It could be a sports story, a story around a crisis or just a success story like the ones we find with people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. Who hasn't been moved by movies like "Blind Side", "Gandhi" or "Apollo 13"? We are wired to respond to motivation and a good leader will tap into that natural chemistry on their team.
Create A Compelling Vision or Mission
I can walk into a company or plant and immediately determine those leaders who are not motivating vs those who are. Our words are powerful indicators of one or the other; "don't ask questions, just do your job" vs "thats a good question let me show you how what you are doing is a key part of what we deliver for our clients." Get the difference? I recall on story where a manager in a fast food restaurant told his drive through staff to count the number of times they made their clients smile. It was a contest and it worked but it also tied into the much needed positive client experience.
I can think of two very different stories around this. In the first story a young manager for a crew in an LNG production facility told his team that his goal was to make them the best crew in the plant. They sat down and agreed on a list together about what made a great crew, broke it into pieces for each of the crew and set them loose to do it. The work was no less redundant but the crew went at it with renewed vigour. Even though they were only measuring against their own previous performance soon the word got out and a friendly rivalry began between the crews and everyones game went up a notch or two.
In the second story an office manager struggled with motivating a group of office staff to come together as a team and ramp up performance. They all did their work but did not seem to work well together. It was a source of frustration until one day a client came into the small office to commend the receptionist on having helped out with a billing issue and left a box of chocolates. Everyone saw it and the manager jumped on the opportunity. She brought the team into the conference room and sat the box of chocolates down in the middle of the table. She commended the receptionist but then asked her to think if there was anyone else that had made her help to this client possible? She didn't even have to think about it because she had needed to pull an archived file and one of the other team got that for her. That team member spoke out about how it was a good thing that the information had been filed properly by another team member who was responsible for that and someone else talked about how the bookkeeper had saved the day as well with timely input on how to deal with the issue. By the time they were done they all realized that each of them in some way had been a part of that success with the client. That was enough for the manager to start to build a mission for that team on being a team and from that point forward things changed.
Clients, Tasks or Team
Usually building vision or mission that is compelling is going to involve looking at either how what we do impacts clients for the better, how the tasks we do contribute to the overall goals of the company or how we function as part of a high performing team. Sometimes these things are obvious such as being a doctor or firefighter where the benefit to the client is clear. Or in a manufacturing scenario where your task is part of a series of tasks that all combine to create a product. Sometimes it is simply that your task may not change the world or save a life or build a desk but it means a lot to your fellow workers in because it contributes to their success - no one ever really wants to let the team down. What ever your situation look for where the best connection to vision is.
Being able to motivate is something that you can learn to do or if you already are doing it, do it better. It is a key talent to have as a leader so ask yourself how is your "motivate" going? Performance Leadership - Think About It?
Like the "Practice Random Acts of Kindness" movement this last and very effective tip is similar in that you need to practice it (that is be intentional) but it differs in that you absolutely must NOT be "random" about your recognition. If that sounds a bit contrived to you let me explain.
Where Is Your 90% Being Spent?
In my earlier posts on ramping up employee engagement we discussed that most leaders spend 90% of their time on 10% of their staff. The issue being that our tendency is to spend a large amount of time focussed on the under-performers. That being the case the question becomes what are you doing with those 90% of your staff who are performing at or above expectation? If we are honest while there "may" be the occasional recognition for the most part with this group "no news is good news." The reality is that "no news is no news" and believe me they know it. This is the group you should be focussing on to drive performance.
Do You Know What You Are Looking For?
Connected with focussing on the performing group is the idea that you should know what you are looking for. What are the behaviours that you want that drive performance? In one case a supervisor wanted his Crew Cabbers (outside leadership) to be instructing and mentoring crews during set up and take down. It was too easy for them to take over and go "butt up and head down" doing the work that the crew should have been learning and doing. So a rule was implemented that Crew Cabbers were not to be seen doing work but teaching and supervising work. One cold February morning as a crew was setting up the Superintendent looked at me and said "look at that, John (the names have been changed to protect the innocent - lol!) is actually teaching that guy instead of doing it for him!" With that he went outside and gave "John" a hearty pat on the back and even brought it up later at the leadership meetings. The supervisor knew what he was looking for and so it was easy for him to spot and recognize the behaviour he wanted.
Its Non-Random So Make A List
Of course it won't just be one behaviour it will be several and so you should make a list to be sure you don't miss anything. In one case the head of a corporate group had a list of behaviours in a jar and each morning she would take one out and spend her day looking for that behaviour in her group. She had enough behaviours on her list to last a few days and so she made sure she did not use the same one two days in a row. Her group did not know she was doing this but she reported to me what a huge difference it made in their performance and how much more satisfying it was to "hunt" for high performing behaviour rather than bad behaviour.
Make The Recognition Meaningful And Change It Up
Here is where the other tips can make this part easier. Through your listening, micro-meetings, tracking and accountability you should have come to know your people pretty well. Make sure your recognition is something they will appreciate and respond positively to. For some a thank you is good enough for others it might be the chance to sit on a committee and for others a "well done" during a meeting. The point is "know" your people so that naming someone at a meeting doesn't cause them to want to crawl under the table and disappear. Be creative in how you provide your recognition and don't let it get stale - as good as a "pat on the back" may be after 30 of them it starts to get old - lol! As well make sure to provide the recognition as close to the behaviour as possible. Waiting to say something during a monthly meeting could be too long and it diminishes the effectiveness of the recognition.
Those are my 5 Easy Tips For Ramping Up Employee Engagement - Micro-Meetings, getting staff to track Personal Performance Measures, keeping your team Accountable, Listening and practicing Non-Random Acts of Recognition. Work at these things and you will be amazed at where your employee engagement goes and moreover what what will mean to your bottom line. Performance Leadership - Think About It!
Before everyone's eyes glaze over let me set the context for this. When I write that we should listen I view this in the active or intentional sense. I believe that those closest to the action are best able to identify the issues and opportunities. People want to do a good job and nothing is as frustrating as seeing a potential issue or opportunity and not having a venue to share it. Using these tips, by this point you have staff measuring performance, you are touching base with them through micro-meetings and you are holding them accountable for tracking and improving that performance. A key part of that is to listen to what they are telling you and if necessary be an advocate for their ideas.
Listening is NOT Chasing Opinions
Lets be clear managers and leaders deal with "suggestions" all the time and much of the time the "suggestions" fall into the "in my opinion" category. An opinion is something that is unsubstantiated and so using up time to listen to this is frustrating. However, your team is tracking performance metrics and discussing findings. They now will have data to back up what they are seeing whether it is a potential problem or an opportunity. Too often we allow ourselves to chase opportunities without having the "numbers" or the data to back it up. This should not be the case with your team. They will be able to make a pretty compelling argument using the data they have collected so don't let that go to waste.
Listening IS Providing Venue
Often this aspect of your listening will begin with something brought up in a micro-meeting or when you are having staff share performance measures with you. These are the venues that are "gold" with regard to listening. It is an opportunity for you to affirm the work of your staff and to provide direction too. If, for example, someone presents a thought regarding a process that looks promising but still lacks data to validate it then you have a perfect chance to give direction about what sorts of numbers you want that would provide you with the comfort to make the change or take it to the next level. They will chase those numbers down because they are now invested in making sure they can provide support for their idea. This also becomes an affirmation that they are a part of the team and whether the idea sees the light of day or not they got a chance to contribute. That matters!
Listening IS Intentional
Often in my discussions with leaders they tend to take a casual approach to this issue. After all we all think we spend a lot of time listening to our staff. The difference is that you need to be intentional. There are several reasons for this but let me share just a couple.
We Don't Listen As Much As We Think We Do
In several studies conducted on the issue of communication a group of managers and leaders were asked to rate their level of communication with their staff. In addition they were asked to list the various ways that they communicate and how many times they communicate regarding an issue. Most of the managers felt that they were good in this skill and many cited emails and meetings as the primary tools for communicating. In this process their staff too were given surveys on how well they viewed their managers communication skills and the results were interesting. Where most managers used on average two or three methods to communicate a piece of important information it was found that to do this effectively they needed to layer their communication at least 7-10 different ways or times! The kicker though was that most managers emphasized communication as the dissemination of information to staff and staff put more emphasis on communication as the dissemination of information to management and on this issue they were miles apart! It was far more important to staff that they be able to communicate easily and openly with leadership than those leaders had realized.
If You Don't Track It, It won't happen
The other reason for being intentional about your communication is that in the rush of day to day activities it is easy to let things slide on the listening side. You need to make a list or set a schedule that you hold to so that you "know" you are getting out and listening to your staff. It is too easy to get caught up in administratia and come to the end of a day a realize you haven't really seen any body.
You want a team that is engaged and performing and you have provided some key pieces to make that happen through tracking, accountability and micro-meetings. Giving them a venue and an opportunity to share with you and contribute to the team goals is a natural outgrowth of those things. If you don't provide it the result will be the same as starving a fire of air. You can provide fuel and heat but without air it won't last. Take the time to listen. Performance Leadership - Think About It!
The most challenging behaviour to master with regard to affirming your team and building engagement is getting you and them to embrace accountability. This has several layers of meaning that need to be extracted so that you understand what I mean by accountability. Certainly it means monitoring and holding your people accountable for their KPI’s or performance objectives but it also means being vulnerable as a leader as well as getting your team to be vulnerable around behaviour dealing with team performance such as admitting mistakes, needing help or just saying sorry.
Accountability is Hard!
It is not by accident that embracing accountability is not often written about. I won’t sugar coat it, this is the hardest behaviour to master. In fact, statistically this is the biggest challenge that leaders face across all the other behaviours that they need to develop. We all tend to get uncomfortable with idea of calling someone out for a behaviour issue or a performance issue.
If you are like most of us (and I mean most of us) you are not going to want to hold that team member accountable for a negative or non-productive behaviour. Rather you will probably make note of it during your meetings or say something to others in passing to others on the team or in your department. Regardless of how you try to spin it this is indicative of a lack of respect as there is nothing respectful about withholding information from a peer that could help them improve their performance.
Accountability is Affirming
The biggest affirmation you can give your team or staff is to hold them accountable. If you think about it from a personal perspective wouldn’t you want to be told that something you were doing or not doing was not only noted by your peers but was impacting their ability to do their jobs as well?
This will date me a little but with respect to walking in that mutual vulnerable trust let me use this old adage – “Only your friend will tell you when your fly is open or your slip is showing.” As difficult as it may seem, the idea of holding each other accountable for behaviour that impacts the team has to be done and is one of those indicators of a strong and cohesive team.
Accountability is Respectful
Once you have your team tracking their own metrics around their performance it is vital that you hold them accountable. What that does NOT mean is walking up and looking at their charts tracking their metrics and tearing them "a new one." What is does mean is asking them to show you how they are doing, getting them to explain the highs and the lows (and they will want to given a safe environment) and asking them what their plan is to improve the problem areas they have identified. You can also keep the door open to them should they decide they need help - but let them tackle their issues first. A healthy team will come to understand that truth and embracing accountability will come easier as they practice it and it is ultimately the highest form of respect.
No it never gets easy, just easier and once you have experienced working on a team that is cohesive and healthy and that practices embracing accountability you will wonder how you ever managed to get things done any other way. And what’s more, it will be rewarding, enriching and fun! So tell me, how accountable is your leadership and your team?
Performance Leadership – Think About It!
I am at that stage in life where I am fighting an uphill battle against calories. Up until the time I turned 30 I never gave a calorie a second thought as my metabolism allowed me to consume as many as I wanted with little impact upon my weight. Now however that is not the case and in my war with calories I have discovered that if I don't track it - I lose - the battle that is. I don't lose weight I lose the feedback that I need to win the battle where it is most important in those moment by moment decisions where the data on my calorie intake is crucial to maintaining a strangle hold on those little buggers! I have learned that these calories are important and I need to track them.
Pick Something To Track
The same is true with your team. Each of them has a role to play and each of them have activities and things to do that either advance the teams pursuit of its overall goals or inhibit that pursuit. You will have a pretty good idea of what you want each of your team to set as goals and what to track but key in this discussion is that each of them has to make that determination on their own and they have to see the need for them. If you run a team of Executive Assistants for example you may want them to be proactive and set as a goal that they should always have their VP or CEO, CFO, COO's fully briefed and ready for each meeting. However, you need them to see the importance of tracking hits and misses on that metric and you need to give them the latitude to experiment and honestly track it without getting chewed out! You may guide the conversation but they should own the metric they want to track. Using the above example, the easiest metric would be to simply count the number of successful meeting preps vs the number of unsuccessful meeting preps. If they come up with that idea and decide to track it, they will own it. From there setting goals becomes easy.
Make Failure A Stepping Stone To Success
Key to all of this is to allow you staff to dive into the failed meetings. It doesn't matter how many failed meetings there are as long as they can look at those failures and drill down to why they failed and come up with solutions to try for the next meeting. If they are afraid to admit failure to you and hide it, you all lose. You have to give them the comfort to say they failed and also the accountability to come up with a solution. What is wonderful about this process is what amazing things will get discovered in those "post" meeting analysis and the processes they will come up with to ensure success.
Don't Manage The Process, Let Them Do It!
You have to avoid the temptation to "manage" or engineer the process. In one LNG plant there were issues with safety around the use of the golf carts that were used to get around the very large site. Golf carts don't go that fast but this site was built in a Louisiana swamp and so all the roadways were raised to alleviate issues around flooding and ground water levels. Crews were being careless and rolling carts when doing things like backing up and so on. Since this plant was still in construction the upper management who where all engineers (bless them all!) decided to engineer a solution. Seat belts were installed, governors were put on to regulate speed and yellow safety lines were painted on all the roadways that the carts used. Guess what happened? Nothing - incidents continued at the same rate. Finally one particularly bright engineer suggested they ask the crews what might be done about this issue. Guess what they found out? Most of the safety incidents were the result of two individuals who were notoriously poor drivers. They suggested assigning mentors to drive with those individuals for one month and to implement a policy of one month suspension from cart use (that’s a lot of walking) for every incident. Because it was "their" idea the crews owned it and safety incidents all but disappeared. This was the crews goal and they took it on and completed it.
Success Breeds Success
Regardless of what your team does whether it be front line operations or something in the corporate or office setting there are goals that they can be setting and pursuing. Once they do they will succeed and nothing breeds success like success. If it is important to the progress of your team measure it and set some goals. Performance Leadership - Think About It!
Ramping up team engagement is one of those activities that many talk about but few know how to start. That is because developing employee engagement is one of those "soft" skills that they don't tell you about when you move into a leadership role. It is a big area of concern because the research and data on this area is alarming - according to Gallup global employee engagement sits at 18% and North American engagement sits at 33%! Think of it this way, at best you get one to two days worth of real engagement from your staff each week. Does that put it in a more tangible context for you? This issue is similar to the research that tells us that as humans we really only use about 10% of our brain's capacity. Decades of study has been put into trying to figure out how to tap into that other 90%. The good news is that with regard to employee engagement there are answers that are fairly straight forward and easy to practice that will see your teams engagement soar!
Micro Meetings Starting At The End
Micro meetings are really an example of using many of the engagement tips we are going to discuss all at once. I am going to take a counter-intuitive approach with this set of articles and start with this rather than end with it. Why? Because it is something that every manager can start doing now without even knowing what the other techniques are. What will become apparent though, is that as you learn some of these techniques you will see how easily they can be inserted into a micro-meeting.
This is also counter-intuitive in that adding another meeting to a schedule that is probably jam packed with meetings seems like a bad idea. I have consulted in companies where I added up my meeting hours and out of a 40 hour week I had close to 28 hours booked with meetings - and that was the norm! So I get it - adding a meeting seems like a bad idea.
What IS a Micro-meeting?
A micro-meeting is not your typical meeting. It is in reality a touch point during the day and not much more than that. Many places I have consulted they actually have micro-meetings although they don't call them that and don't even view them as meetings - but they are and that this the beauty of it! In one place the operations guys would meeting outside the shop first thing in the morning for a "smoke" break. This is a routine they had done for years. They visit, joke, talk about sports or family and talk about what is happening in the shop. They share problems and discuss solutions, plan for the day and then go to work. This is not formal, it is not planned and it usually lasts between 3-5 minutes! What is interesting is that the moment someone suggested a formal meeting at the start of each day the team balked at it as a waste of time - lol!
So a micro-meeting is exactly what these guys were doing - informally. Visiting, touching base, providing some social affirmation that they were part of the team (I wanted to throw some psychology in there to give that some weight!) and yes, discussing issues and brainstorming solutions. This should be organic and should flow naturally. Of course introducing the idea of a micro-meeting to the team is going to sound formal and anything but organic so you have some options.
Looking For The Setting
Look for times during the work day where part or most of your team tends to congregate. It could be at break around the water cooler, or for a smoke break or at the coffee shop - you get the picture. If you are already doing this informally and did not realize it then great, if not then start and for the first while at least, just listen. Soon enough you will be invited to provide feedback on something I guarantee it. Again this is not about being sneaky but it is about avoiding "formality" and building a relationship. Look for when folks take a break and take a break with them. If you haven't figured this out yet you may need to do this a couple of times during your day just to make sure you have touched base with everyone on your team. In some cases what happens too is that people find out the "boss" is hanging with the group in the coffee room and eventually everyone wants to be there because it is an opportunity to have the "bosses" ear. Taking the time to just visit and listen is valuable on its own merit so if it stays at that level initially don't worry about it.
Take The Direct Approach
If those types of gatherings are not happening or don't lend themselves well to your situation do not worry. It is okay too to take the direct approach. Work with your team to come up with a time that would work for a daily micro-meeting. Give them the biggest say on this as they will need to buy in and assure them it will never be more than a few minutes, 5-10 tops. Use it as a touch point but remember to also let your team visit a bit and do what you can to keep things as organic as possible. What you want from this micro-meeting are two things; first build relationship and second take the pulse for what is happening on the team. Listen to what they are sharing and facilitate getting them to come up with solutions when issues arise. Where you can, support those decisions. Keep it short, be supportive and its okay to provide some direction too when needed. I know I keep stressing to keep it short because it can get away on you. With one group when they started their meetings ran usually less than two minutes - I know because I timed them! But as the team and the manager became comfortable and they began to see the value in the meeting it got to the point where it ran almost 45 minutes. You will be tempted to go longer because everyone is going to be invested but you can now harness that investment at the more formal regular team meetings.
You may be thinking to yourself can 5 to 10 minutes really make that kind of difference in engagement? It does! We are going to look at how this fits into the other tips for effective engagement in the next few articles but you are going to find that your team is going to blossom with the attention and you are going to start getting information that lets you stay in front of issues rather than chasing them down with a fire hose. Performance Leadership - Think About It!
I was out taking my dogs for a walk this morning and came across a poor fellow who was axle deep in a ditch. As I was driving up the road I could see him frantically looking for material to prop under his tires to give him enough leverage to get out. As I pulled up he called and asked if I had any chains or a tow rope? I didn't but offered to help in any case. We tried for some time to no avail when suddenly his wife (who was manning the steering and gas while we tried to "rock" it out) discovered a fairly big tie down and a manual cinch. We hooked it up to my truck and within minutes we had his truck out and back on the road. I was glad to help out - it is what we do here in Canada - and I was glad it was successful.
How Many Are Stuck?
I share this because it made me think about how many companies or groups are in the same predicament, stuck in the mud with no help in sight and wondering if they are going to make it? The situation doesn't even have to be horrid, just enough to make your tires spin but not enough to let you out of your current predicament. You might even have a tow rope but that is of little use until someone comes along.
I see this with companies all the time. Their profit has just dipped into the red and they are looking for any kind of leverage to help get them out of the rut. They lay off people, trim overhead, adjust processes and try just about everything to get traction but all to no avail. All they need is that 2%, 3% or 7% boost to get them over the hump and back into the black. I imagine that right now a lot of companies are facing this kind of dilemma and it must be frustrating.
You Don't Have To Stay Stuck
What if I told you that like that guy I helped this morning the answer is right within your company and all you need is a little help to make it all work? According to Gallup the average worker in the western world in engaged at around 33%. What if you could see that rise to 40%, 50% or more? Would have give you the traction you need to get over that hump to get back into the black? You bet it would!
Using a potent combination of continuous improvement, performance management and behavioral science I have seen companies move engagement and performance to amazing levels! Communication opens up, staff take up the cause of protecting and boosting the bottom line and the company works like the team they always wanted to be.
Learn to Use What is Already In Your Company to Get Out of the Rut!
Using personal metrics operations crews begin to understand how their work impacts the bottom line and they become champions for better processes or better yet, they provide new and innovative revenue streams. In one case during one of our training sessions a group of operations and leadership came up with a cost saving process that added over 10% to the company profit margin! That was before they had even begun to implement the training they were receiving. In another group we walked them through a process analysis as part of their training and discovered several key items; one - no-one oversaw the process from start to finish, two; communication between the various departments had dropped to almost none-existent and three; when they all came together to explore options they came up with literally millions of dollars in immediate and future savings and this is in this current market!
You may be stuck in the mud with no help in sight but you don't have to stay there. You are closer than you realize when it comes to getting out of that rut and back on track. Performance Leadership - Think About It!