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.

Advertisements

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?


Coaching V Mentoring V Consulting

March 11, 2010

I am spending an increasing amount of time coaching executives – reflective of the exciting business world. One challenge that I face is that the coachee wants a solution and, quite often, wants it now.  This can be based on a misunderstanding of the nature of coaching and mixing it up with mentoring – an experienced person sharing wisdom – or a consultant – an experienced person brought into to provide a solution. Coaching is about allowing the coachee to find their own solution.  Getting these distinctions across at the beginning of a coaching assignment is crucial.

I came across a great summary in Excellence in Coaching edited by Jonathon Passmore:

  • A therapist will explore what is stopping you driving the car
  • A counsellor will listen to your anxieties about the car
  • A mentor will share tips from their own experience of driving cars
  • A consultant will advise you on how to drive the car
  • A coach will encourage and support you in driving the car

The Motivational Power of Body Language

January 6, 2010

I was in a retail store recently – an outlet of a major international brand based in a large shopping centre.  While browsing, I engaged in a favourite past-time – people watching. The store manager was instructing a staff member to rearrange several displays.  While I cannot comment on any previous interactions between the two, this one was enlightening in the use and impact of the manager’s body language as was the  employee’s reaction.

The words used by the manager were both polite and clear. His tone and body language (especially facial expressions),however, told a different story. This was a manager who was impatient and determined to show the employee who was in charge.  The impact upon the employee was worth observing.  She was doing her best to maintain as much distance from her manager as possible given the circumstances.  Her facial expressions were obviously neutral and her responses were mono-tonal.  This was someone who was very much aware of the power dynamic at play and was not exactly happy with it.

The manager – as is often the case – was totally unaware of the impact he was having on one of his team.  Relying on the power of his position, he expected the employee to carry out his instructions.  However, the carrying out of those instructions would be all that he would receive.  I would imagine that any additional or discretionary performance would not be forthcoming.  Any situation that falls outside his instructions would likely require further interventions from the manager – taking up his time and effort.  A simple realisation of how body language can change the manager/staff dynamic would have transformed this routine engagement.

Every interaction that we have with those that we work with has an impact.  The question managers need to ask themselves is: what impact am I having and is that impact positive or negative to our the working relationship?


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.


What comes first – Satisfaction or Performance?

October 11, 2009

A very interesting article was published  recently on the TheStreet.com –  “Satisfaction Does Not Boost Performance”.  The article outlines the outcomes from a number of studies that overwhelmingly show that satisfaction programs will not only help business performance, they may not even improve satisfaction.  Some key points from the article:

  • In 1976, “The Handbook of Industrial/Organizational Psychology,” summarized 3,300 job satisfaction studies dating back to 1955 and found, “… negligible relationships between satisfaction and level of performance or productivity.
  • In 2009, Ed Lawler of the University of Southern California and author of “Talent,” said definitively: “Satisfaction does not lead to performance; it is caused by it.”
  • In a 2009 CFO Magazine article, Richard Beatty of Rutgers University, stated that “HR people try to perpetuate the idea that job satisfaction is critical, but there is no evidence that engaging employees impacts financial returns.”

Many companies see satisfaction as an input to performance not recognizing that it is an output. By aiming to seek performance from satisfied employees (rather than realizing that high performing employees tend to be satisfied) most such programmes leave performance to chance.  It is based on flawed logic seeking the simple solution.  Organisations that try to create one size fits all engagement programmes often end up with very happy employees that may have no desire to perform.

The final line from the article sums it up. “Find the right people, put them in roles that use their talents and give them support to be successful. Happiness will take care of itself.”


Motivating After Change

October 9, 2009

We are living in a time of unparalleled change – at least the latest period of unparalleled change.  Organisations are having to radically rethink how they operate, manage, service their customers and are staffed in order to survive.   However, as I have written previously, how organisations manage this change with their employees is key to its success.  An additional factor, however, that organisations need to take into account is how to motivate those that remain in the organisation once the latest change programme is completed.

Much has been written about the impact on redundancies on those left behind.  ‘Survivor Syndrome’ recognises that there is a physical and psychological impact upon those employees who have not lost their jobs.  These staff feel guilty for keeping their jobs when their colleagues and friends have lost theirs.  This in turn can impact upon performance.  A recent survey, reported in Personnel Today (Note 1), showed that, in organisations that had experienced at least one redundancy programme, 67% reported lower staff morale, 65% noted an increase in absenteeism and 17% found that retention of key staff was a problem.  In addition a significant number (19%) noted problems with productivity.

What can organisations do to manage this impact? The first step is to to minimise the impact of redundancies on the remaining workforce.  This can include briefings about the changes (before they happen), explaining not just the what but the why of change and outlining the impact that this will have on both the staff who are leaving and those remaining.   The next step is to have a strategy to reengage with the remaining workforce.  This includes, above all, open and visible leadership.  Without the direct and repeated involvement of the leaders of the organisation, trust cannot be maintained or rebuilt as appropriate.  With trust, the leadership can ensure that the change becomes embedded and that the organisation can not just survive but thrive. The organisation can then move beyond the change phase and begin operating as a normal business again.

Note 1: Survivor Syndrome among staff is hindering employers, Nadine Williams, PersonnelToday.com