Thursday, December 16, 2010

Keeping Employees Engaged to Get to Where You Want to Go

During tough times, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep yourself and others focused. Our brain's reaction to fear kicks in and we pursue a variety of options just in case.  Despite our brian's insistence that we look at multiple opportunities and constantly explore new things, tough times are not the time to diffuse your energies. Focus, focus, focus!

Get clear on what excellence looks like for the next six months.  Define it so all employees can relate to it and can make the right decisions moment to moment.  Once you have gotten yourself focused on the right things including prioritizing where you should spend your time and other resource, there are some simple do's and don'ts for keeping employees engaged and aligned. To start, at the company or team level, make sure you have reconsidered the culture necessary to achieve excellence based on the changes around you. Culture helps people know what to do and how to act. Remember that actions speak much louder than words, so it is the apparent behaviors that get translated into beliefs and drive behavior throughout the organization. An aligned and positive culture can contribute significantly to an organization's success and even more so in tough times. The behaviors of everyone can contribute to getting you to your destination points or they can slow you down at the worst possible time. An unaligned (usually unintentionally developed) culture gets in the way. 
Cultures poorly aligned to the elements of your strategic framework (why do we exist, how will we behave, what is our value to key stakeholders, where are we going, where are we today, where will we focus our energies) can be damaging and distracting. For instance, when a company needs all employees to become obsessive about customers due to tighter markets, increased competition or ever higher customer expectations, the culture has to support the employee behaviors necessary to achieve this obsession. This includes building policies and practices that allow employees to make decisions and take risks about satisfying customer requests immediately. For example, if a customer service agent is only allowed to operate 'by the book' in addressing customer requests, she risks losing a customer when they have a unique need and it requires three levels of approvals to have that need met. 
Leaving culture changes to chance is like abandoning one half of your strategic planning framework. It is like pretending that those darn employees and the way they get things done do not really matter to achieving success. There are five core practices and beliefs driving high performance cultures today:
1.    Clearly define what winning looks like
2.    Measure what matters and what employees can relate to
3.    Develop an ownership mentality and enable educated risk taking
4.    Keep an eye on the external environment
5.    Set up people to succeed and nurture trust
Especially in tough times,
Reiterate where the company is going and why as well as the core strategies to get there
Provide persuasive reasons why the company/team can win - what are the strengths that will prevail
Paint a compelling vision of the future (with as much visual detail as you can create) - describe what winning now looks like
Deliver ongoing feedback - communicate even more with direct reports about how they are doing and continue to reward (in low or no cost ways) and realign behaviors.  When you don't communicate enough, employees make up much worse than the truth especially in tough times
Structure ongoing communications to all employees through a variety of channels to keep the goals/destination top of mind
Assume employees understand why or how your organization can succeed when they see a lot of 'news' about failing companies all around them
Make promises you can't keep (i.e. there will be no layoffs)
Ignore the confusion or frustration that initiatives or projects have been scaled back - talk about the why and the new how it will get done
Assume a one-time, feel good meeting can fix things or that employees won't see thru it if there is no new strategy behind the changes.  (Wasting time in a cheerleading session creates even more employee frustration if the content is not very focused on their situation and if it does not provide real 'meat' specifically about why the company can now win).
Cultures are difficult to change and it takes a concerted, visible and powerful energy to shift them. One of the real benefits to completing your strategic framework and communicating it constantly is that it will drive a culture that fully supports getting you to where you want to go. When things are clear and simple to employees, they develop a sense of direction and focus and can move quickly.
Everyone wants to be a winner and do their best each day. Your job as a leader or manager is to set yourself and others up to be successful. Leadership and management behaviors (not words) are the single greatest influence on an organization's culture. Don't leave success to chance!

Biotech Rumor

Keeping Employees Engaged to Get to Where You Want to Go
Keeping Employees Engaged to Get to Where You Want to GoX-Men Evolution: Season 4, Episode 2 Tube. Duration : 21.90 Mins.

GET ALL FOUR SEASONS ON ITUNES! X-Men: Evolution Season 1 X-Men: Evolution Season 2 X-Men: Evolution Season 3 X-Men: Evolution Season 4 In order to boost their reputation, the Brotherhood decide to stage accidents and then rescue the bystanders. In the beginning, they are successful, but then, a staged accident runs out of hand. The X-Men just save the day, and the Brotherhood stops with their deeds.

Tags: x-men, kitty, pryde, x-men evolution, storm, wolverine, nightcrawler

Consultant, Author, Speaker Holly Green is the CEO of THE HUMAN FACTOR, Inc. ( She has over 20 years of executive level and operations experience in FORTUNE 100, entrepreneurial, and management consulting organizations.

Green's background stretches across strategic planning, organization design and development, and leadership assessment and development. She has been responsible for successfully designing and building critical infrastructures in several organizations and has worked as both an internal and external resource for multinational corporations including: The Coca-Cola Company, AT&T, Dell Computer, Bass Hotels & Resorts, Expedia, RealNetworks, Microsoft and Google. She was previously president of The Ken Blanchard Companies, a global consulting and training organization, and the biotech firm LumMed.

Her commitment to educating executives on how to be effective leaders and managers in today's changing world is evident with a proven track record of value-added delivery. As a sought-after speaker and consultant, she has received national recognition and in 2007 was honored as a dynamic business leader and role model receiving the Women Who Mean Business Award.

Holly conducts more than 50 workshops annually for Vistage, the world's largest CEO membership organization. She is also a frequent keynote speaker for numerous corporate and professional associations. Her book, More Than A Minute: How To Be An Effective Leader & Manager In Today's Changing World ( lends voice to her corporate experience and goes beyond the theory of leading and managing by providing practical action oriented information..

Holly has a BA in behavioral sciences and Master of Science degree in organizational development from American University in Washington, D.C. She is currently on staff at Webster University where she teaches courses in the graduate program. Holly also teaches for the University of California San Diego, Rady School of Management in the executive education program.

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