Management Success Tip #136: Drive Employee Performance and Business Success With Effective Asks

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If failure to appreciate employees is the single most important factor that drives workers screaming out of a company, appreciating your employees is one of the best ways of not only keeping them, but supporting their very best performance and productivity.

Appreciating employees goes way beyond bonuses and awards. It is, as the saying goes, “the little things,” your day to day practices, that show employees they are appreciated.

And one of the easiest, best ways to show employees you value them (which is what appreciation is all about), is to ask them, on a regular basis, for their thoughts and comments.

Kevin Eikenberry, in a recent “Remarkable Learning” tip, suggests nine questions that effectively elicit employee thoughts:

“1. What is your intention?
2. How would you suggest we proceed?
3. What is your recommendation?
4. How do you think/feel about it?
5. What do you see contributing to this problem?
6. What is the best next step?
7. What is your biggest concern?
8. Can you say more about that?
9. What is your greatest wish?”

Ask these and similar questions frequently, you’ll greatly enhance employee engagement, as well as glean all sorts of useful ideas with which to increase your company’s success.


Management Success Tip #135: Don’t Leave It At Home: Compassion At Work, Works!

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For the longest time, it was believed that feelings, emotions, were inappropriate in the workplace; we were told to “leave it at home” – with the obvious exception of happiness at the company’s success, or the displeasure managers were expected to convey over poor performance or productivity.

But that has changed. It is increasingly recognized that people who are suffering or upset bring that upset to work with them, and “sucking it up” isn’t good for the person or the business.

If anything, research reported by Professor Jane Dutton suggests that when people experience compassion at work – a recognition of their pain – whether they are the recipient of the compassion, the giver of such, or just a witness to the compassion, feelings of commitment to the organization increase, as does employee engagement!

Yet businesses are not meant to be “group therapy” – there’s work to be done! So how can you show compassion to an employee or co-worker going through a rough patch, without turning yourself into Dr. Phil?

Professor Dutton suggests: ““Rather than worrying about fixing someone’s pain, simply taking the time to see their pain, to inquire, to empathize and to listen without judgment, can be an act of compassion at its best.”

None of which takes much time or energy, just a caring and respectful attitude toward the pain of your fellow human being. No Dr. Phil-ing required.

Management Success Tip #134: Ditch the Rhetorical: Empower your Team with Genuine Questions

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In the most effective teams, team leaders share their views, and ask others what their views are. There’s a genuine give and take, which allows for non-judgmental discussion of the different viewpoints, takes into account everyone’s ideas, within the context of a focused interaction. Research shows that such teams not only have stronger performance, but also better working relationships.

Such teams are driven by leaders who ask good questions. And good questions aren’t just a matter of what you’re asking, but of how you are asking the question.

Roger Schwarz makes a valuable distinction between rhetorical questions, asked to make a point, and genuine questions, which simply seek information.

Rhetorical questions per Schwarz, for example, would ask:

“You donʼt really think your solution will work, do you?”

“Why do you think I asked you to follow up yesterday?”

Whereas a genuine question might be:

“If we implemented my proposal, what problems, if any, would it create in your divisions?”

Rhetorical questions are posed when you already know the answer, and are basically just trying to ”nail” someone for something: their incompetence, your superiority.

Genuine questions really want to know: what problems would be created? What would be the impact?

Your teams don’t need a demonstration of their ineptitude or of your greatness. Instead, empower your teams with genuine questions.