Thursday, May 14, 2015

You Want Employee Engagement?

Dan Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, says organizations not using Motivation 3.0 are headed to irrelevance. Motivation 1.0 was about survival and outrunning the hunter. Motivation 2.0 was about reward and punishment, carrots and sticks. Motivation 3.0 is about autonomy, mastery and purpose. Watch Pink's presentation at  

Isn't the common organization mantra, "People are our most important asset?" Aren't organizations continuously trying to tap into their most important asset? Installing Motivation 3.0 in the workplace culture will get you employee engagement, which can yield faster, better, less expensive and safer solutions to problems. Employee engagement has shown to improve morale and reduce turnover. Productivity is increased.

But before you install Motivation 3.0, it might be wise to check the “work culture operating system.” What is the work culture and who impacts the work culture? What behaviors create engagement versus disengagement? It boils down to two practices, good etiquette and vulnerability-based trust.

Who is the “customer?" The "customer" is anyone who relies on our work. The way internal customers are treated impacts external customers. Be responsive to questions or requests. This is work etiquette 101. When an employee asks a question or makes a request, don’t ignore it until they have to ask again. Respond the same day if possible, within 24 hours at the latest.

Walk-your-talk. Set a positive example. “Do as I say, not as I do,” kills respect, hurts integrity and lowers morale. Be a role model, not a hypocrite. If you want respect, give respect, including:
- Don’t be late to meetings. This is bad etiquette.
- Turn off your cell phone in meetings. To look at your cell phone, or worse, take a phone call during a meeting is bad etiquette.
- Take notes on paper, not on iPads or laptops. Even if you are truly taking notes on an electronic device, it creates suspicion. The only person who should take notes on a electronic device in a meeting is the designated recorder or secretary.
- Don’t be a workaholic. Sending emails and texts late at night or on weekends and expecting a reply, says you don’t respect cohorts' life outside of work.

If you are not actively listening to others in face-to-face encounters or in meetings, you are hurting employee engagement. Multitasking during face-to-face meetings is bad etiquette and a relationship killer. When your eyes drop to your lap, you are hurting your credibility.

Remember what you ask team members to do. Leaders forget now and then. When you do forget, it sends the message that what you asked them to do may not really be that important.

Be aware of your Leadership Privilege. Do not be ashamed of Leadership Privilege, but do be aware of it and do not use it to take advantage of followers. Leadership Privilege looks like:
- Always having reliable transportation to get to work on time. It may include having a company car.
- Special parking which is great especially in bad weather.
- An office with good lighting, an ergonomic chair, the latest computer and privacy.
- Always having a seat at the meeting table and usually in a key location.
- Having knowledge that followers do not have. Knowledge is power. Be mindful of impact of withholding or not being transparent. Misusing your power is a form of bullying.

Take a lesson from the Marines. Officers always eat last!

Be aware of disloyalty, betrayal and brutality. These three behaviors destroy employee engagement and kill trust.

- Disloyalty. An employee shares an idea and the leader doesn’t acknowledge it. This is treating the employee like a stranger. 
- Betrayal. An employee shares an idea and the leader shares it with higher ups and takes credit. This is treating the employee like a competitor or an enemy. 
- Brutality. You are in a meeting and you share a thought or idea. The leader responds: you are stupid; that is the worst idea ever; asks, 'why you can’t be more like ______?' This is treating the employee as if he/she is sub-human and unworthy. This is a form of bullying.

Be sensitive to overworked employees. The leader, manager or supervisor that ignores or is oblivious that an employee is overloaded will not get engagement. How many times have you heard “My boss has no idea of what I do or how hard I work!”? Bosses need to take time to shadow their staff, do ride-alongs and go to where their staff works. Open door policy should be replaced with “let-me-walk-a-mile-in-your-shoes” policy.

Is there ROJ
(Retired on the Job) in the workplace? ROJ makes it harder on everyone else. If you supervise someone who has ROJ, don’t ignore it. This sends a negative message to those who are still working. Guess what it does for employee engagement?

Do not over-promise and under deliver. Do not make promises you cannot keep. This not only hurts credibility, it creates distrust and unwillingness to go the extra mile.

Micromanagement is not only an employee engagement killer, a huge trust killer.

Here are a couple of other Employee Engagement Killer apps:
- Playing favorites.
- Indecisiveness, waffling, avoiding a decision creates stress, bottlenecks and disengagement. 

- Continuously changing the company org chart sends a signal of indecisiveness especially when there is little information on the reason for the changes.
- Betraying confidences kills relationships and employee engagement.
- Unwillingness to admit when wrong or own a mistake. Furthermore, to blame someone else for your mistake brings down employee engagement.
- The right way is my way on getting things done. This is a sign of a big ego.
- Unpredictable moods. Mood swings are disturbing and cause avoidance behavior.
- Don’t be a helicopter leader or ghost leader. In other words be available. Make time to meet one-on-one with staff.

As Tom Rath and Barry Conchie point out in their bestselling, Strengths Based Leadership, followers want leaders whom they trust, who have compassion, who build stability and who give hope. Live into these four behaviors and you will get employee engagement.

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