employee engagement posts
How can you improve employee engagement in your organization? These posts discuss employee engagement and related topics!
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February 02nd, 2012
So many corporate teams are raddled by strained resources, frequent deadlines and multi-tasking. I am working with a few clients in exactly this position. In one case, the CEO still manages to schedule regular management meetings. This is a good thing for reviewing progress, learning new team competencies and if need be, recalibrating objectives for better results. The not-so-good part is that because they are only monthly, the meeting agendas are generally so chock-a-block that there is little time to ‘renew and connect’.
Recently, this team acquired a new member. Let’s call her Georgina. She has great power and influence and a strong willingness to participate. She will be instrumental in helping to promote the company’s vision of the future. She has also achieved great results before, literally rebounding from the depths of bankruptcy. The CEO and the team recognize her potential for helping them all achieve better results this year.
My role on this team is, as usual, “meeting fairy” instilling the importance of team norms.. My responsibility is to provide an equal and open forum and make sure that all agenda items receive adequate coverage.
I now face a new challenge with Georgina in these brisk meetings. I have noticed among her talents one incredible skill: she can speak for up to 90 minutes without a single break – I kid you not! As an experienced meeting fairy, I am extremely skilled at jumping in with force after a breath or slight pause to move the conversation on. But, wow, with Georgina I fear I have met my match!
So what am I to do about this powerful, authoritative and influential person who dominates the forum? What do you need to do when all participants of a meeting buy-in and agree to the norms except one rebel?
This problem illustrates one very basic rule of thumb: get all new members to buy in to the team norms for meeting participation. I must make this the key issue.
I have decided to meet one-to-one with Georgina in order to do three things:
- Bring forward the team norms.
- Be transparent about my inability to fulfill my meeting fairy responsibilities with her monologue behavior.
- Negotiate a solution for future meetings with her input.
Have you ever met a Georgina in one of your meetings? If so, what did you do?
Next week I will post the outcome of my conversation with Georgina – come back to find out what happened!
April 19th, 2011
Emotional Intelligence is a critical component for healthy teams and productive meetings.
When working with others, I develop my emotional intelligence by practicing a high level of self-awareness. This came in handy the other day when I was on a conference call with two experts on my team to develop a new, web-based tool.
When I say experts, I mean that each one of these individuals has specific strengths that I do not possess. Therefore, when we are on a conference call, it’s really important that all three of us have acute listening skills. In order to be effective in our collaboration, we need to understand the other person’s position as much as we understand our own.
On this particular day, I was quite stretched. It was late in the afternoon and I could feel a cold coming on. At the 60-minute mark into our call, my concentration ability had flatlined.
Instead of hanging tight, I stated “I am full, I need to end this call because I can no longer listen or take in any of the details that are being discussed…are you willing to continue this conversation in the morning?” I then shared the information about my cold, etc.
The next day, one of my colleagues told me that he really appreciated how I ended the call. He admired my ability to be straightforward and stated that, in the past when he had been in similar situations, he often toughed it out in order to get through the meeting. He now realized the consequences to himself and others in doing that.
When you feel full, make sure you let others know so that you can get back together and have another effective meeting at a later date. With this behaviour, you will raise the bar for meeting engagement on your team.
Have you been in a situation where you zoned out of an important meeting because you were overloaded? What did you do? What did you miss? Or maybe you’ve been able to speak your truth and end a meeting before your brain shut down. How did that feel? How did your colleagues respond? We’d love to hear from you!
November 02nd, 2010
Have you ever led a meeting where one of your team members sat slumped in their chair, arms crossed, and not said a word for the duration?
Often we hire individuals to be members of our team because they have a particular skill set. A VP of Marketing, for example, can be highly committed and competent when designing consistent marketing messages… BUT not be committed nor competent when collaborating during a team meeting.
This is a problem.
All members need to be fully engaged in order for meetings to operate effectively. So how do we use our leadership communication skills to provide direction and support for apathetic team members?
Holding a meeting “check-in” is the first vital step. A check-in encourages team members to effectively solve problems, make decisions, get results, and even celebrate successes. And it’s also an effective way to reach out to disengaged team members. (Read my post on using the check-in to increase team productivity.)
As a facilitator, I am often brought in to be the interim leader of a meeting to work towards developing a more effective leadership communication style. Here’s how I use a check-in to that end:
- I clearly illustrate what a check-in includes: “Please tell us what you are working on, how heavy your current project load is, what your “stuck-points” are, and whatever else you think we need to know.”
- When the response is a reluctant two-word sentence, I direct the uncommunicative team member to “say more.” Once the team member is asked to explain more about their project load, I notice that their arms are no longer crossed, and that they are formulating five- to six-word sentences.
- I spend some time with the uncommunicative team member describing how the check-in can help increase team productivity. Once they understand that communicating during team meetings is an important part of their job, they usually become more forthright.
Although you might notice greater engagement during the first check-in you conduct, remember that building effective communication skills is a process. Over time, check-ins usually begin to occur without leadership prompts.
As leaders and peers of team meetings, we need to stand up for effective communication. If there is an individual on our team who is disengaged, we need to use our own leadership communication skills and cross-lead to increase competence.
Do your team meetings involve check-ins? How have you used your leadership skills to engage uncommunicative team members?
January 14th, 2010
Teamwork. You either love or you hate it. And for good reason. Effective teamwork requires a lot of emotional intelligence.
I’m thinking the folks over at Scotiabank have emotional intelligence in spades. They’ve launched a new initiative called “one team, one goal.” Here’s the amazing part: they have 69,000 team members, spread across 50 countries.
How are they going to find the glue that unifies all these different employees to get results? By putting emotional intelligence to work. Here’s what that means. An important principle in emotional intelligence is starting with what matters.
Scotiabank focused on finding a solution to connect people so that they would generate results they needed. They sat down as a leadership team and thought, Hey! We’ve got a lot of members, in a lot of different places, a lot of data, and we need to get one core result. What’s the glue? What’s going to hold the team together? What’s going to align all of the data and the people?
Applying the power of Emotional Intelligence, they got to the idea of developing a mentoring program in which top-tier level executives would nurture and teach second-tier executives. That became their glue and goal: Develop new leaders.
Then it gets really exciting.
They started to think about this glue as a conversation about Scotiabank’s values, Scotiabank’s skills, and Scotiabank’s culture. They started teaching all that to this group of people, and it led to some robust conversations about problem solving.
Next thing you know this magical thing starts happening: the human element kicks in. People get electrified by ideas. They engage and connect. They solve problems and get results.
That’s emotional intelligence in action. You find the glue that will align people and data. For Scotiabank it was developing leadership through mentoring. For your team, it could be something different.
It’s interesting to note that Scotiabank is the only Canadian company to make the list of The Global Top Companies for Leaders. I’m guessing emotional intelligence has something to do with that. What do you think? How can you use emotional intelligence in your team and organization? What’s your glue?
November 10th, 2009
Are you? “The Power of Full Engagement” provides Gallop statistics: after 6 months on the job, only 38% of employees remain engaged. After 3 years that figure actually drops to 22%. It brings up the question – how do you keep employees engaged at work?
In the last few months I have talked with a lot of my female friends who are high level executives. I was surprised to learn that many of them are making a conscious choice to ‘cruise at work’ and admit they are quite happy to do so.
(If you do not see a video above, click here to view it: http://bit.ly/1x5aoj)
What is cruisin’?
For these executives, cruisin’ means they have been with the company for a period of time and their expertise has been well established. They command a senior executive salary, complete with a full benefits package. Now, they just want to cruise – put it in low gear, continuing to reap the rewards but with minimal effort. They are tired of being fully engaged without appreciation. They can’t be bothered to push the envelope.
Personally, I find this quite sad. As an entrepreneur, my life is about ‘what’s the next thing’ and ‘how can I do it better?’ I thrive on being fully engaged.
As Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz say in “The Power of Full Engagement,” ’making change that lasts requires a three step process’.
- Define Purpose: explore how to find alignments between personal values and the values of the company,
- Face the Truth: discuss the situation and explore how to re-engage,
- Take Action: establish projects of greater interest.
Are you willing to share a ‘cruising’ story?
October 13th, 2009
CEOs & leaders try to create a workplace culture to match their brand identity. However, management of productivity and results can sometimes set employees into a flurry of activity which, in turn, can detract from the espoused cultural norms.
The brutal fact is that in some workplaces the real cultural norms are – if you want to take a break, you need to start smokin’!
I received an email in response to my “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the most unproductive of them all” post. The commenter (let’s call her Suzy) had the courage to blow the whistle on the unspoken norms in her workplace.
Suzy said the culture did not support the idea of taking a break here and there, going for lunch or just taking 5 minutes to walk around the office. Instead, she described how she found an outlet for a break with one of her smokin’ co-workers. She realized that the smoker took regular smoke breaks throughout the day. So she decided to share an outdoor break with the smoker. It was almost as if the habit of smoking allowed people to take a pause. During these short breaks, Suzy could re-group, re-energize and return to her desk being more focused and productive. The smoker has now left the team.
Suzy no longer has a reason to take a break, not being a smoker.
After reading my blog, Suzy checked her assumptions about the unspoken workplace norms with a couple of her co-workers. They agreed. One gent sheepishly revealed he felt the need to hide if he wanted to take a break.
What are the brutal facts of the workplace culture within your company? Are you allowed to take little breaks so you can be more productive? If you can’t, is your culture contributing to people burning-out?
Do you, CEOs, leaders and executives, have the courage to question the brutal facts of your espoused (this is what we say we do) workplace culture vs. the real culture (this is what we actually do)? Do you think that your culture is burning people out? If you want to find out, ask people anonymously. If the answer is no – great!
If you find out that your company has a burn-out culture. Are you willing to make the necessary changes – promoting individual productivity and team sustainability ?
And finally, please don’t start smoking just to take a break.
October 01st, 2009
Right now you’re probably buried with work, right? Even so, you took a quick break to check out this post. But if you’re like most executives, you probably need more “time out” from your workload to recharge, build relationships and trust, and maintain maximum productivity.
Believe it or not, most executives are not nearly as productive as they could be. So if you have another 80 seconds right now, check out this video on the importance of increasing productivity and building trusting relationships by simply taking a time-out within each day.
- For 30 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. shut off all electronic devices. Unplug from the business imperative that you must always be in touch. Instead be in touch for energized pockets of time,
- Make personal contact with people. Have 5-minute check-ins. Walk around, say “hello”, “how is it going?”,
- Peak at the ‘paper’ in the reception area – get the scope on who is waiting for a meeting with one of your colleagues and why?
- Take a colleague for a coffee or lunch. You can re-energize, build relationships, solve business problems and have fun all at the same time!
What else do you do during the day to recharge and improve your productivity? Let me know.
September 01st, 2009
There are incredible benefits to leveraging diversity in organizations. Broad expertise, knowledge and judgment can create major communication challenges or outstanding opportunities!. To benefit from diversity, we need to work together and be effective in navigating our differences. We can do this by taking more ownership of our side of the communication, our side of the two-way dialogue.
I recently worked with an extremely talented CEO who was visually impaired. To improve communication and team effectiveness within his organization, I facilitated a number of teaming experiences in which his associates were blind-folded. Once they experienced what “visually impaired” truly meant, they started to utilize different ways of communicating to complete the task at hand. They also started to recognize how their CEO had to work differently to get things done. They had more empathy for him. End result, they became more aware of how they could increase their communication with him by being more responsible to their side of the dialogue.
I’m now working on a team with a deaf woman, and it has been a most incredible learning experience for me. I’ve learned to adjust my own communication style, to apply different techniques in an effort to respect the wonderful diversity she brings to the group.
- I have realized our ‘communication loop’ reflective listening competence; in which the receiver of the communication re-phases what they heard from the sender, is as effective when she re-types as when we re-phase,
- I have learned how ‘instant chat’ can trump email for effective communication,
- I have learned to write more in my blog posts as opposed to simply uploading a video,
The most important thing I’ve learned is that I have to be responsible for my part of the communication, for my part in this relationship. So I’ve started to learn expressions in sign language. Even though I am not great, not perfect, she can still understand when I say, “Good morning, how are you?” She can understand when I say, “Can you repeat, I don’t understand.” She starts to be able to communicate with me because I am working to improve my side of the dialogue. As a manager, leader and co-worker I have to draw people out and help them understand the message I’m delivering.
For me, diversity just means we are different. We’re different because we have limitations. We’re different because we have strengths. We’re different because we come from different places and we have been brought up with different norms.
It takes self-awareness and initiative to recognize these kinds of communication challenges and courage to make them opportunities. When you consider the diversity in your teams, can you see opportunities to improve the way you communicate? Can you take more ownership of your side of the dialogue and become more effective in the process?
June 28th, 2009
Sorry about the volume of this video – some of it was shot in studio and some outside; audio levels vary.
In April, I participated in Habitat for Humanity’s Toronto Women’s Build. I was in a group of 60 business leaders gathering to give back, to have a fun day and to somehow swing a hammer to build one of sixteen new homes for families in need.
As eager business women with type A personalities, we were all juiced and ready to jump in!
Habitat for Humanity gave us the overall vision of the day. Our project manager then started us with some tactical direction – it excited all of us for a short period of time. Then we all became very ineffective. Our participation slowed and motivation waned.
A fellow entrepreneur, Joan, saved the day with her high level of Emotional Intelligence:
- Self Awareness in her ineffectiveness,
- Self Management in her ability to manage her frustration and,
- Her courage to act with Leadership Assertiveness; simply requesting that the project manager share the tasks vision.
Watch this video – a great case study for team effectiveness. Consider the following:
- Describe the project/task vision. All of us need to understand where we are going so that we can get there.
- Provide direction then support. Provide detailed direction to the newbies on your team (like us — highly motivated but lacking in task specific competence in how to build a house). Provide support when you recognize effectiveness is declining.
- Encourage your team members to uplead. Joan exercised her leadership assertiveness in asking our project manager to explain the vision of the task – this is ‘upleading’,
- As a leader, respond to the upleading immediately. If a member of your team behaves with a positive uplead – grab it and act immediately. Our project manager did just that! She led us to the sample home and showed us the needed end result.
April 19th, 2009
Are you throwing your time and money away with training presentations that are quickly forgotten? Check out this video on making training presentations more effective for your team. You’ll learn:
- How fast we forget.
- What it takes to retain knowledge.
- How to stop wasting time and money on training.
- How just 10 minutes of review can help your team “overcome the forgetting curve” and boost your ROI.
There’s a strong ROI case for making time to review presentation material after the fact. According to the Ebbinghaus Curve + Article: University of Waterloo, within 24 hours of getting new information, participants who spend 10 minutes reviewing it will raise the curve almost to 100% again. A week later, it only takes 5 minutes to “reactivate” the same material and again raise the curve. By day 30, your brain will only need 2-4 minutes to give you the feedback, “Yes, I know that…”
What do you think?