Management Success Tip #158: What Matters to Your Employee? Engage Workers by Engaging the Personal

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You work hard to recruit the right people for your department, for your business, and you work equally hard to train them, so that your department is staffed with enthusiastic, engaged, productive employees.

There comes a time, though, when despite your best efforts, some of those employees – often the best ones – become restless, their engagement falls off a bit, and you worry that some of them may feel the grass is greener elsewhere.

Promotions and raises are good, however, as Michael E Kibler, founder and CEO of Corporate Balance Concepts, Inc., states: “More money won’t cut it. . . Companies must instead provide a new kind of currency to engage their professionals – one we call ‘active partnering.’ The first step is to create a system that allows executives to talk candidly with their managers about what is most important to them professionally and personally and how their organizations might support these goals…”

Although Kibler is referencing executives, the same thinking applies to any of your employees. When you demonstrate real interest, followed by practical assistance, steps or resources, in what matters personally as well as professionally to your employees, you engage them on a whole new level.

It doesn’t matter, as Kibler states, whether those interests are “… writing a book, reconnecting with a disenfranchised family member, starting a non-profit” or the more “prosaic – running a 10K, coaching a child’s soccer team, volunteering as a mentor,” the genuine interest you show, along with discussing possible ways to assist your employee in achieving his or her dream (and following through!), develop a mutual respect and loyalty which dollars alone can never do.

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Encourage Open Brain Thinking By Your Employees

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Employees will perform better when bosses encourage them to think of how they will succeed instead of focusing on how they can improve.

Research by Professor Richard Boyatzis at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western shows  how differently our brains function when we’re coached based on our dreams and desires, rather than on our failings.

When we hear positive feedback, our brain opens, we becomes more receptive and are motivated to do good work. Boyatzis’ research shows that when we hear criticisms, our brain closes, making us anxious and defensive.

In his book, “Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence,” Daniel Goleman quotes Boyatzis: “Talking about your positive goals and dreams activates brain centers that open you up to new possibilities. But if you change the conversation to what you should do to fix yourself, it closes you down.”

Use an open brain style when interacting with employees. For example, bosses should ask an employee at review time, If everything worked out perfectly for you, where do you see yourself in a year? According to Boyatzis’ research, this makes it easier for the employee to think in terms of improvement rather than if he or she heard the more typical “Where do you think you need improvement?”

This second approach immediately suggests there’s something wrong with the employee, which in turn tends to shut down the employee’s ability to think constructively. We humans are a bundle of emotions. A boss can help employees succeed just by inspiring “open brain” thinking.

Management Success Tip #157: Appear Confident During Crises without Channeling Your Inner Action Hero

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If managing employees was easy, business would practically run itself. Not! Management is usually about putting out fires with brief respites in between, which is why, as one of your colleagues says “They pay us the big bucks.” Yeah, right. You wish!

Meanwhile, sometimes the hardest thing to do while in the midst of putting out another of said fires, is to do so with confidence. Yes, you know what you’re doing – for the most part – but how well it will work, over the long haul as well as the short, etc., isn’t all that certain.

And yet, according to Georgina Stewart of Lead Change Group: “If you are not confident in yourself, the plan that you have formed or the actions that you are taking – how can you expect others to be confident in your ability? At the very least we ask that you appear calm, collected and confident at all times as causing others to panic on top of the situation you are already in will simply cause more stress and will burden you further.”

No, you don’t have to channel your inner Action-Hero, you just need to appear calm, collected and confident so as not to sow further panic in the ranks. And that is largely a matter of body language.

Stand straight, walk tall. Wipe the frown off your forehead, and as best you can, keep a neutral expression on your face. Think before you speak, and speak deliberately.

Here’s the thing: even as you adjust your body language for the benefit of your employees, science tells us that adopting such postures will help you feel more confident, and that, in and of itself, is worth the effort.