As I began research for this month’s newsletter, I came across one of my old newsletters from 2007. In that newsletter I made reference to Ken Dychtwald’s book, Workforce Crisis, which had been published the previous year. In his book, Ken not only predicted the shortage of skills and talent in today’s workplace, he also wrote about setting strategies in motion to avert that workforce crisis which included, among other things, an entire chapter on “Meaningful Work and Engaged Workers”.
While we’re taking a trip down memory lane, here is the list from my 2007 newsletter on ten ways to foster employee engagement. While some have stood the test of time, in hindsight one or two of them might appear to be a bit naïve if not antiquated:
Here's a word of advice for managers who’ve had an unpleasant meeting with a key employee and cannot fathom why Give-and-Take turned into Tug-of-War. Get out your employee manual and look under troubleshooting for Failure to Communicate.
Oh, wait. That topic isn’t in our employee manual.
In the time period “between 2016 and 2030, demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26 percent in the United States.”(1)
If you want to dramatically improve employee engagement, productivity, and profitability within your organization, you really need to intentionally hire emotionally intelligent people and then train and develop them to be even more so. Why? Today it’s our “people skills” which are more important than ever before in our ever-changing complex business world.
How did this happen?
- Her resume was impressive,
- She nailed the interview, and
- Her manager thinks the world of her …
- Her co-workers despise her and
- Her customers avoid her.
In our work with organizations we see this problem over and over. The job candidate had an impressive resume, absolutely nails the interview, and then three months later their “evil twin” shows up for work.
There are hundreds of articles published annually regarding the cost of a bad hire and/or the negative impact of a bad hire on team morale, productivity, revenue, and profit. There are also millions of dollars invested in applications, platforms, and assessments designed to help companies avoid those bad hires. Why? Because hiring the right people really matters. However, despite great tools and our best efforts, we still sometimes miss the mark. So, what’s been the missing link? We’ve not been able to hire for Emotional Intelligence … until now.
I recently did a morning seminar for the Thumb Area Manufacturing Forum on the “Three Keys to Hiring, Developing, & Retaining Top Performing Employees”. The first key, as you might guess, was to improve their hiring process. But, given the time I had to do the seminar, I wasn’t able to expand on all facets of the hiring and retention process. WHAT DID I MISS? The importance of onboarding – and that’s the topic of this newsletter.
I recently had breakfast with a friend of mine, a businessman who owns a company with about a hundred employees. Among the many things we talked about that morning was his desire to retire in the near future from the day to day involvement in his company. His longer term plan is to just retain his role as the Chairman of the Board until a suitable buyer for his company could be found in a couple of years. While he’s comfortable with the individual he recently made the president of his company, his nagging concern is that he doesn’t have enough of the right people in other key positions. Even more nagging is the fact that he doesn’t have a development plan in place for those individuals within his company who could fill those key positions.
The good news according to The Center for Michigan is that “Jobs are plentiful and wages are booming in Michigan”. The bad news for employers is they can’t find enough applicants (let alone qualified applicants) to fill their open positions. This condition is true for virtually all employers – manufacturing, health care, retail, transportation, financial, etc. As the job market swings toward increasing scarcity of qualified applicants, a parallel trend begins to appear: top performers in every sector of the economy start to change jobs, looking for better pay, more recognition, opportunity for advancement, or perhaps just a change.
Since the publication of Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great in 2001, there’s been a proliferation of books and articles all confirming the importance of “Job Fit”. Because of this, there are lots of managers who fervently endorse the concept of “get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus”. These managers invariably believe they’re hiring according to these principles; but, good intentions aside, a real question arises.
Every organization, despite its best efforts in recruiting, hiring, and motivating employees, invariably faces the problem of low performance employees. We all know the signs … tasks which get done, but seldom on time and usually poorly done; absenteeism and tardiness creeping up; and managers who gradually shift some of that person’s workload to other, higher-performing workers.
It’s often said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. While almost a cliché, this statement is especially important for Human Resource professionals. Most HR departments typically measure such things as the time to hire, cost per hire, turnover, absenteeism, lost time due to injuries, etc. While important, limiting their measurements to these types of metrics fails to address HR’s necessary contribution to the organization’s business goals.
One issue constantly surfaces these days during our presentations to leaders of organizations and, in all candor, it’s an issue which consumes those of us who are helping best-practice companies both attract and retain top talent. That issue is … “you must know your employees well, better than they know themselves.” Much like the song “Getting to Know You” from the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I, it’s all about getting to know more about your most precious asset – your employees.
- Envision good performance and communicate your vision.
- Don't just nod your head; listen to your direct reports.
- Don’t ask employees to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.
Since the dawn of human existence, people have organized into teams to accomplish what no one person could effectively do on their own. But it wasn’t until the late 1920s and early 1930s with the now classic Hawthorne Studies that researches conducted a series of research activities designed to examine in-depth what happened to a group of workers under various conditions.
Organizations have two kinds of problems – system problems and people problems … and it’s the people who ultimately fix the system problems. Historically, organizations have been much more successful at solving their systems problems than their people problems. With system problems, there is the benefit of dealing with objective information, quantified information, and a common frame of reference.
Quadrant Social Style Assessments (aka DISC type assessments) should never be used for pre-employment (hiring) purposes for the following reasons - they...
In F. Leigh Branham's book, Keeping the People Who Keep You in Business, he makes this suggestion; "Interview applicants who may lack traditional qualifications, such as degrees or years of experience, but have the right abilities and can be trained," (emphasis added).
You know the kind, you walked away from that encounter and couldn’t fathom why your planned “Give-and-Take” conversation turned into “Tug-of-War”.
In the author’s words, “Why are there so few leaders in today’s business community? The answer seems to be that most managers don’t understand or know enough about the nuts and bolts of skilled leadership.
Only ten days before Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office in 1861, the Confederate States of America seceded from the Union, taking Federal agencies, forts, and arsenals within their territory.
Two hundred years ago, when poet Robert Burns penned the words about seeing ourselves through the eyes of others in his famous poem, “To a Louse” (1786), he could not have known that they would apply so fittingly today.
Understanding the difference between the role of a "manager" and a "leader" is crucial to maximizing the potential of your people. A manager's job is to plan, organize and coordinate. A leader's job is to inspire and motivate.
Making mistakes in hiring or promoting can be costly to an organization, making mistakes in hiring or promoting people for leadership positions can actually be destructive to your organization.
It’s been said leaders are made and not born. While it’s true many great leaders tend to share certain traits, anyone can learn to be an effective leader if they’re willing to develop the characteristics of leadership.