What Next for Employees?

July 27, 2010

The Towers Watson 2010 Global Workforce Survey provides some interesting insights that should be taken into account by all Leaders when planning for the future of their organisations.  Based on 20,00 workers in 22 countries, some of the key points in the survey include:

  • Employees see security as a fast disappearing part of the employment relationship although 76% want a secure position above all else
  • Only 38% of employees think that their leaders have a sincere interest in their well-being while less than half think that their leaders inspire and engage them
  • Almost 40% of employees are either disenchanted or fully disengaged
  • 42% of staff think they have to go elsewhere to advance

As many organisations are finding out, it is one thing to keep employees when they have no other options but, when the upturn does come around – and for some companies, it already has – these employees will start to question how they have been treated during the downturn. The best of these employees will have the earliest options to move to what they consider to be a better job.

Now is the time for Leaders to begin reengaging with employees through, for example, challenging work design, growth opportunities and, putting in place recognition programmes.

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Is it the situation not the person?

June 15, 2010

A very interesting article in Fast Company by Dan Heath (author of Made to Stick) looks at the impact that the Fundamental Attribution Error can have on how we assess behaviours.  Fundamental Attribution Error occurs when we attribute the behaviour of an individual in a specific context to being part of their core character.

A typical example is how we all can sometimes behave when in rush hour traffic.  Most of us have committed acts when driving that, while not life threatening,  are not always nice!  Do these acts reflect our real personality?  Do we react in a similar fashion in other contexts when under stress – probably not.

Sometimes we need to take a step back when assessing an unusual behaviour, especially one that is out of character,  and ask the question: is this behaviour a result of the situation or is it the person?


Myths about teams

May 28, 2010

The latest edition of HR Dynamics newsletter focuses on how organisations can make the most of their people through better team work. If you would like to join our mailing list, please let us know at shane@hrdynamics.ie.  One article from the newsletter deals with some of the myths about teams.

Many organisations establish teams by putting a group of employees together to deliver on a particular project – and then label them a team.  When the sum of the parts does not equal (or is even less than) the sum of the individuals, the organisation blames the team, the team leader or the notion of teams.  Management attention moves onto a new focus and the idea of the team gets a bad name in the organisation.  But a team is more that the members; many managers fail to grasp; instead they rely on some common misunderstanding of what teams are – and what they are not?

Some of the common myths and realities about teams are discussed below. Note 1

Myth 1:  Teams are harmonious

Teams are made up of diverse groups of people with different needs, expectations and beliefs.  This diversity can – and often does – lead to conflict. However, it is the diversity of the team that will lead to its success if harnessed appropriately.

Myth 2:  People like teams

Research has shown that approximately one third of the working population like teams, one third are indifferent to teams and one third dislike teamwork.  However, when teamwork is appropriately fostered, high performance outcomes can create an environment that employees want to work in. Success breeds success.

Myth 3: Teams are simple

Teams are complicated structures and should only manage complex and challenging issues.  If the task is simple, it should be left to an individual.

Myth 4: Teamwork is a soft option

Choosing to introduce teams is one of the most challenging management options.  Teamwork demands that members practice their skills to the full at all times and in a consistent manner. The rewards that flow from successful teams are what make the challenge worth the effort.

By understanding the many misconceptions surrounding teams, leaders can help minimise the chance of the team failing before it has the chance to begin.  Next we look at the stage a team must go through before it can be a success.

Note 1: Based on The Myths & Realities of Teams © Wright Consultancy; www.consultwright.com


Who is responsible for poor performance?

April 16, 2010

I was recently approached by a manager for help with an employee who ‘refused’ to change.  A twenty year veteran with the organisation, the employee had ‘seen off’ several managers.  A high performer when it was the way she wanted to work, the employee had successfully avoided all attempts to introduce new methods of working.  Managers, after a few forlorn attempts to introduce new ideas,  gave up and she was left to her own devices.

Who is at fault for this failure to change – the employee or the organisation?  In conversation with the manager, it became clear that previous manager’s had abdicated responsibility for the employee taking the line of least resistance.  While the employee does bear some responsibility for the pattern of behaviour, her resistant patterns have been rewarded by her various managers.  This way of working is what she knows best – ‘I like doing my job my way’.  Any new manager will be a brief nuisance and will soon see the light!

What is the answer?  As I have blogged previously, behaviour change requires consequences.  The current consequence for the employee of their refusal to change is to be allowed to continue as per usual.  For the manager to bring about change, there must be consequences – and these must outweigh the desire to continue the behaviour.  The most immediate consequence should be that the manager makes it clear that they will not be going away.


Do your employees have line of sight?

January 22, 2010

I was struck by a recent conversation with a client.  She was reacting to an employee who, in her words, just did not get it. When I asked what the employee did not get, the conversation expanded into how, despite all that was going on in the economy, some staff were still reluctant to change.  We talked about why such reluctance existed.  The manager felt that some employees had their heads in the sand and needed a reality check.

I have a different take on the situation.  On questioning the manager, it became clear that while the organisation was very direct on telling employees what needed to change, there was very little communication about why the change was necessary or even what difference it would make.  If your employees cannot see a direct link between what the organisation wants them to do and how it will drive the organisation, managers can hardly expect them to be driven to change.  Most employees will change; what they need is a valid reason.  If organisations do not give their employee a clear line of sight between what is expected of them and what the organisation is doing, then while change may take place, it will be slower and less successful than it could have been.


Behaviour change requires consequences

November 4, 2009

Performance, to a large extent, is driven by behaviours.  As I outlined in an earlier post, there is a difference between those who are willing and those who are able.  Ability is what I am capable of doing. Willingness is based on my motivation, satisfaction and my engagement.  Once, I have the ability, if I am not performing, it is usually down to my willingness.  And my willingness drives my behaviours.  This could manifest itself as my willingness to engage, my attitude to my colleagues or clients or, simply, my time and attendance.

For there to be a change in behaviours, there must be consequences – and these must outweigh the desire to continue the behaviour.  For many managers, there is a desire to bury their head in the sand rather than tackle the issue at the earliest possible opportunity.   By challenging the behaviour, the consequence does not have to be dramatic or final.  By ignoring the behaviour until it becomes a problem, the consequence must be severe in order to lead to a change.


Its the small things that make the difference

October 22, 2009

A  recent article by Jon Younger of the RBL Group (Dave Ulrich, Wayne Brockbank et al) confirms a belief that I have held for some time.  Younger outlines how many organisations can spend too much focussing on the big things while it is often the small things that make the difference.  Too often, we focus on the large systems – reward, talent management, performance.  However, employees appreciate the small things that show that managers are paying attention.

It does not cost money to say thank you – even a hand written note – or to take a team out for a lunch for no particular reason.  But these small things can have a big impact upon morale, performance and engagement.  Get the small things right and often the big transformation can go smoother.  Ignore the small things – or get them wrong – and it can be harder to bring about the big changes in an organisation.