Management Success Tip #174: If Engaged Employees Are Great, Inspired Employees Are Even Better!

Recent research shows that although engaged employees are by far better for your company’s productivity than dissatisfied or even satisfied employees, inspired employees outpace even engaged employees by over 150%!

The table below tells the tale:

Inspired Employees are Most Productive Employees

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how do you get your employees up past the satisfied level into engaged, busting into inspired?

Garton and Mankins suggest that you start by looking at foundational elements: “If people are constantly struggling with unnecessary meetings, cumbersome approval processes, and routine obstacles, they are unlikely to be satisfied, let alone engaged or inspired.”

Ask yourself, for example: how many meetings can you slash from your employees’ calendar? Including virtual ones? How can you better streamline the meetings that are actually necessary? Can you tighten up the agenda?

What is your approval process? Is there duplication of steps? As simplistic as it may sound, people prefer a one click-through process to a three or four clicks-through to get something done. How close is your approval process to a “one-click” style?

And so on. Review your basics, and you have much better chances of cultivating an environment where employees are inspired, not just doing what it takes to get by.

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Management Success Tip #172: Engage Employee Cooperation By Asking Open-Ended Questions

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Even as children, most of us didn’t like to be told what to do. And although a certain amount of “Here’s what you must do” is obligatory in any business, there are many times when “What” or “How” open-ended questions are more effective.

For example, “How do you think your task could best be accomplished?” “What resources do you think you might require?” invite consideration by your employee as to just with what and how they might meet a desired goal. More importantly, open-ended questions invite dialogue, and dialogue, in turn, is how positive relationships are born.

Successful managers foster positive relationships between themselves and those who report to them: not necessarily friendships, but certainly relationships of mutual respect and appreciation.

You can, of course, lead by commanding, but that has proven to be an increasingly less effective strategy. Leading by engaging is far more powerful, and inviting dialogue is a prime way of engaging.

People always cooperate better with a decision they’ve had a hand in creating. Asking open-ended questions that invite dialogue is a sure way of facilitating your employees’ role in making, and then adhering to, those decisions that apply to them.

Management Success Tip #169: Your Company’s Higher Purpose Will Attract Purpose-Driven, High Performing Employees

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There’s a story told of bricklayers carefully applying mortar to brick, constructing a wall. Most of them, when asked “What are you doing,” replied, “Building a wall” (“duh” implied). But one bricklayer, when asked what he was doing, replied, “I’m building a cathedral.” As indeed, in the bigger picture, he was.

Today’s workers want to be building cathedrals. Not in the literal sense, of course, but in the sense of greater purpose.

Increasingly, workers are asking that their jobs have meaning, have a purpose. That the companies they work for, the workplace where they spend the majority of their waking hours, have a social mission, or at the very least, a purpose greater than simply selling widgets.

For example, Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform, redefined its corporate structure so as to prioritize its social mission (funding creative projects) over profits: it became a public benefit corporation. With that, Kickstarter’s jobs page received a stunning increase in visits of 33%.

Now, where “purpose-driven employees” and “profits” align, is that workers who are purpose-driven, will work harder for companies with a greater purpose. So it is in your best interest, not only to look for potential hires who are purpose-driven, but to define your company’s purpose in a way that will attract those very hires, support their best performance, and retain them.

Your statement of greater purpose must be genuine, however. Purpose-driven workers are quick to sniff out any attempt at manipulation-via-greater-purpose-statement, and with the help of social media, the backlash would be swift and merciless.

Management Success Tip #167: What’s “Meaningful Work” Anyway? Find Out by Asking!

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People expect more from work now than a paycheck and decent working conditions. Especially the younger generations (read 40 on down) want purpose, a sense that their work is meaningful. It is what makes them happy. Studies have shown that workers are motivated most powerfully by making progress at something that is personally meaningful.

But what is that? What is personally meaningful to one employee may not be personally meaningful to another.

Don’t guess. You’re hardly the man behind the curtain: ask!

What Monique Valcour calls the “coaching” function of management: “. . . restrain your impulse to provide the answers. Your path is not your employeeʼs path. Open-ended questions, not answers, are the tools of coaching. You succeed as a coach by helping your team members articulate their goals and challenges and find their own answers. This is how people clarify their priorities and devise strategies that resonate with what they care about most and that they will be committed to putting into action.”

It may feel odd to you to ask open-ended questions of your employees: “What do you want for yourself this year?” “How do you see yourself developing your talents?” rather than “Do this, do that.” And “Tell me more” as a follow-up may really upset your usual managerial apple-cart. But the little bit of time and effort it may take to work with your employees in this manner will pay off big dividends in terms of their motivation and commitment.

Management Success Tip #162: Get the Best From Team Conflict: Bring Out Your Inner Referee!

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Conflict is challenging for most people. Yet the ability to hold different opinions and argue for them is one of the best ways to ferret out those ideas that will benefit your company, and which lack sufficient potential.

As David Burkus states: “If you team always agrees, that might suggest that people are self-censoring their ideas, or worse, not generating any new ideas at all. Research suggests that teams that forgo traditional brainstorming rules and debate over ideas as they’re presented end up with more and better ideas. As a leader, it may seem like your job is to break up fights, but don’t be afraid to act as a referee instead — allowing the fight over ideas to unfold, but making sure it stays fair and doesn’t get personal.”

There you have it! Let opposing ideas come forth, encourage the many voices on your team, and bring out your inner referee as needed. As long as a fight is fair, that no one feels you are taking sides, that you are weighing the pros and cons judiciously, and encouraging your team to do the same, not only will dynamite ideas emerge, but your team will have the satisfaction of a thorough discussion.

Yes, adopting the referee role is more demanding than simply imposing your will, but the results are well worth the effort, both in team satisfaction and solid, business-worthy ideas.

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.

Management Success Tip #155: Don’t Rush To The Fix: Seek First To Understand!

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You’re a busy manager – too much on your plate all the time, and too little time. The curse of modern day business.

It’s perfectly understandable that in dealing with your employees, you want to go straight to the fix. Which you figure you know. After all, you’re the manager.

But here’s the thing: sometimes you don’t. You don’t know if the reason an employee is clock watching is because he/she is lazy and unengaged, or because there’s a sick child or elderly parent at home that requires care. You don’t know if it’s because the employee is rushing to get to a seminar, a team-sport activity, or a bar! You don’t know.

Instead of rushing to the fix, seek first to understand what’s going on with your employee. It’s what Steven Berglas, Ph.D., business consultant, calls “showing empathy.” He states, for example: “If you tell someone, ‘You know, you got an issue that calls for an attitude adjustment,’ youʼll never connect with them. Even if you are correct, the other person will dislike you for being insensitive. Say, ‘I sense you have been out of sorts for some time,’ and that person will embrace you.”

By not starting out with “the fix” and judging your employee on the basis of very little information, you’ve made it possible for your employee to share what’s really going on with them. Whatever it is, your fix will be far more appropriate and targeted, because now you actually know what the problem is.

Understanding is a far better road to effective management than guessing is. It also makes for a happier, more engaged workforce.