Employee Engagement

/Employee Engagement

5 EASY WAYS TO BRING GRATITUDE TO THE OFFICE

This time of year is filled with swarming demands. You are juggling to-do lists, replies to investors, flittering holiday schedules. You have yearly success to evaluate and ugly sweaters to pick. It’s easy to feel like there is not enough — not enough time, not enough talent, not enough appreciation for the work you and your team are doing.

All this not-enough-ness leaves us feeling empty and depleted rather than full of comfort and joy.

Conscious leaders can gracefully combat feelings of scarcity by incorporating gratitude into the workday. Simple shifts towards thankfulness will inspire teams and provide hope and prosperity for the year ahead.

Here are five easy-to-implement ideas to inspire gratitude for your team and organization.

1. Make a list.

Take a break and grab a pen. Go sit somewhere quiet and make a list of what you are thankful for in your organization. Are there standout employees making a difference? Are you proud of new accomplishments or thankful for the light dancing across your keyboard as you type your next important email? Taking time to stop and make a list of what brings you joy at work can ground you. Then, take the time to share your responses with your team. When you lead with a vulnerable heart, this sets the stage for employees to follow, which leads to …

2. Acknowledge what’s going right.

Leaders are programmed to problem-solve. Addressing challenges and navigating unknowns probably led to your success. It is natural to jump right in and tackle obstacles with your team. A key shift towards leading with gratitude is to first recognize all the things going well right now. Start simple to build your gratitude muscles. The printer is working, and the lights are on. All members of your team arrived safely on time. Fresh coffee is percolating. Then you can move on to recognize the positive results of your team’s contributions. Last week’s demanding client is now thrilled with revision three of their blueprints. Perhaps you cut costs by changing suppliers and made five new connections leading to new sales.

Keep a running list with your team and review together at the end of each month. Celebrate your successes and confidently move forward to address new challenges. You can also…

3. Learn what your employees are thankful for in their work.

One-on-one meetings are essential to healthy workplaces. Providing space to share successes and voice concerns with a leader on a regular basis leads to better results. Rather than drag, these hours can be inspiring problem-solving sessions designed to provide insight on engagement and satisfaction at work.

Ask questions like:

  • What are you doing well?*
  • What are you working to improve?*
  • What roadblocks are in your way?*
  • How can we support you better?*
  • What about your work are you most thankful for?

These questions prompt employees to ponder which aspects of the job they enjoy and where they are thriving. They also uncover areas for improvement and perceived feelings of positive impact in their current roles. If employees struggle to identify what they are thankful for, you can work together to create a plan to make work more rewarding. Encourage them to go back to point number one and make their own gratitude lists. If they feel comfortable, invite them to share their responses with you.

4. Express gratitude for employee’s efforts.

Conscious leaders understand that people are vital to a healthy organization. With mixtures of personalities, preferences, and time available, you may feel unsure of how to express your thanks and appreciation to members of your team. Some folks love a good superlative, while others would prefer to melt away than stand on stage and accept an award. Take the time to ask what makes your employee feel special. Add a line to on-boarding paperwork to track favorite desserts or what movies they enjoy. Keep these notes in their file or their contact info on your phone. Then, when you notice a standout action, you can leave a note and a small token of appreciation on their desk. Too touchy-feely or out of budget? Jot a quick note-of-thanks email and click send. Or better yet…

5. Say thank you, in person, with an authentic heart.

My first job was a receptionist in a nail salon. I made appointments, put on jackets, and buckled folks in to the driver’s seat so their nail polish wouldn’t smear. At the end of each day, the owner would tell me, “Thank you for your work today.” No matter how many toe-nail clippings I’d swept or demanding women I’d navigated, I always felt seen and appreciated when my boss would say thanks. As an organizational gatekeeper, I’ve worked with many colleagues who say they like their work and they wish their bosses were more aware of how they navigate the frustrating parts of their roles. Employees want to be seen. Acknowledge the metaphorical toe nails and repeat the phrase, “Thank you for your work today,” with a sense of authentic appreciation as often as you can.

It takes time to see your people. When you choose to invite gratitude into your spaces and conversations, you can appreciate the positive impacts you and your organization make. Try out these ideas before the end of the year. With practice, you’ll be able to encourage your team to focus, with grateful hearts, on all you set out to accomplish.

This Article was written by Katie Huey of Conscious Company Media – Original here>

2019-06-14T11:37:38+00:00January 2nd, 2019|Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Employee Engagement, Motivation|

Making workplaces truly great: How management toxicity affects employees, and what to do about it

What matters – for employee engagement and productivity and, more important, for employee health – is the work environment and the work itself.

Two recent studies reveal that nearly half of India’s private sector employees suffer from depression, anxiety and stress. Demanding work schedules, high pressure for achieving objectives, and the “always-on” mobile phone syndrome are the top three culprits.

“Management toxicity” is affecting more and more Indians just as we see it in Americans and others around the world. Of 8 lakh suicides across the world annually, about 1 lakh are Indians. India is the world capital for diabetics; and cardio ailments are affecting people in their 30s and early 40s.

We wonder whether annual lists of “great/best places to work” have any sanctity, given that many employees from such listed companies frequently complain of toxicity in management. We question the ethical and serious bias of the agencies that do such ratings, because they try to sell their products and services to the companies they are listing. We suggested health-related data as an added criterion, and a shift in orientation of the rating agencies to “non-profit” for removing serious bias.

Chronic disease, caused in part by stress, is one reason that healthcare costs are soaring around the world. Because most stress comes from work, the workplace has become a public health crisis.

But workplaces do not have to be toxic and stress-filled. Our research uncovered two crucial elements that can build healthy work environments and that don’t cost much to implement. By providing people more job autonomy and social support, enterprises can create healthier workplaces that are less stressful and eliminate the many costs related to stress.

What matters – for employee engagement and productivity and, more important, for employee health – is the work environment and the work itself. Not having a boss who heaps scorn and abuse, because the health hazards of workplace bullying and incivility have been well documented. Having a private office or at least a workplace with comfortable temperature, good lighting, and acoustical privacy, ensures that the physical work environment does not impose stress.

A study of British civil servants revealed that the higher the person’s rank, the less likely that individual was to suffer from coronary artery disease. Why? When British epidemiologist Michael Marmot and his colleagues investigated, they found that the determining factor was the level of job control. Being micromanaged is stressful, and having more control over what you do and when you do it is positively associated with health and wellbeing.

The problem of micromanagement arises because corporations often promote people based not on their ability to manage others but for skills such as their capability with budgets or project management. Because many managers can’t manage, in the sense of coaching others to do their jobs better, one of the worst “sins” many employees encounter at work is being too tightly controlled.

As for the second element – social support – evidence suggests that having family and friends, and having close relationships have a direct effect on health, and that buffers the effects of various psycho­social stresses. People who were less socially integrated had higher mortality rates and higher rates of cardiovascular diseases and even cancer.

Changing the environment to make things better is not that hard. Just stop doing the things that create toxic work environments: Get rid of forced ranking, the “grading ­on ­the ­curve” performance review process made famous by GE; don’t pit people against each other in the guise of internal competition that results in a rat race in which people work crazy hours and travel excessively; invest in management processes where senior managers can mentor juniors; stop the transactional approach to employees by not viewing them as factors of production and trading money for work.

When people have hard times, provide them with help and support – meals, babysitting, companionship, time off and a signal that their colleagues and the company cares about them. With a supportive environment, people are healthier and more tightly integrated into the company.

Holiday and birthday parties, and events that celebrate shared successes such as product launches or project completion – almost anything that brings people together in meaningful context – helps build a sense of shared identity and belonging.

Original Article Jeffrey Pfeffer and M Muneer here: Times of India

Jeff Pfeffer is a professor at Stanford Business School; M Muneer is co-founder, Medici Institute

2019-06-14T11:48:41+00:00August 13th, 2018|Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Employee Engagement, Leadership|

Empathy Is An Essential Leadership Skill — And There’s Nothing Soft About It

I get tired of hearing about “soft skills,” even when it’s acknowledged they are important. No less a hard-muscled body than the U.S. Army, in its Army Field Manual on Leader Development (one of the best resource on leadership I’ve ever seen) insists repeatedly that empathy is essential for competent leadership.

Why? Empathy enables you to know if the people you’re trying to reach are actually reached. It allows you to predict the effect your decisions and actions will have on core audiences and strategize accordingly. Without empathy, you can’t build a team or nurture a new generation of leaders. You will not inspire followers or elicit loyalty. Empathy is essential in negotiations and sales: it allows you to know your target’s desires and what risks they are or aren’t willing to take.

Elsewhere I’ve proposed a short list of 5 essential cognitive capacities and personality traits that every leader who assumes great responsibility must have. Empathy is one of the core five. (The others are self-awareness, trust, critical thinking and discipline/self-control.)

Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s experience, perspective and feelings. Also called “vicarious introspection,” it’s commonly described as the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes. But make sure you are assessing how they would feel in their shoes, not how you would feel in their shoes. This is the tricky part.

I remember my husband taking me cross-country skiing for the first time early in our marriage. He was sure (putting himself in my shoes) that I would love the sport as much as he did. From the minute the skis were strapped on me, I absolutely hated it. Being generally clumsy and lacking good balance, the sensation of non-stop instability was anything but fun for me—in fact, it made me miserable. My husband kept insisting I would love it if I just gave it a chance. Naturally athletic and graceful, he couldn’t imagine the experience I was having in my shoes—now strapped tightly to long slippery sticks! It took years for me to convince him that my experience on cross country skis was utterly different from his. Fortunately, I discovered the pleasure of tramping around on snowshoes. The solidity and certainty gave me a chance to enjoy winter woods while he continued to enjoy sliding around on icy snow.

Like the practice of self-awareness, empathy involves scanning large sets of data, sorting out what’s noise and what’s essential information. The process is not so different from what a stock analyst does when scanning the market and looking for signals, anomalies and novel patterns that jump out and make him take notice, realizing something important is going on.

There is a significant business cost when leaders lack empathy. Just ask United Airlines which earned the dishonor of having committed “one of the worst corporate gaffes” ever, according to Bloomberg’s Christopher Palmeri and Jeff Green, when a physician was dragged off a plane to empty his paid seat for an employee. It took United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, three tries before his public response showed any empathy. Munoz’s first and woefully inadequate statement, “I apologized for having to re-accommodate these customers,” seriously missed the mark in attempting to relate to his customer’s experience. In his second statement, Munoz compounded the error by blaming the victim—describing the passenger as defiant, belligerent and disruptive. Only with his third try, when Munoz said, “I promise you we will do better,” did he demonstrate an empathic understanding of his current and future customers.

Lack of empathy is a major contributor to the tsunami of sexual harassment incidents that have dominated recent news and led to the departures of accomplished leaders. Commenting on an employee’s body or, worse, grabbing her, requires a failure of empathy. If a boss were able and willing to put himself in the employee’s shoes and understand how she would feel when subjected to his actions, he would be far less likely to do what he’s doing.

Can empathy be learned? To some degree. The capacity for empathy is an innate human trait, and like all of these, there is a spectrum of strength and weakness. Some people are more naturally gifted at quickly sensing other peoples’ experience. In fact, some of my clients have to be taught to put up an “empathic wall”—too much awareness of other peoples’ feelings cripples their ability to make decisions that lead to disappointment or bad feelings.

Very successful business leaders are often extremely fast information processors. With my clients who do not “suffer fools gladly,” I recommend taking a moment to deploy a bit of empathy—what’s behind a colleague’s wish to propose what immediately looks like a dumb idea? Follow with an empathic comment along the lines of “I can see why you got excited about that because it’s an important issue, but unfortunately it would raise compliance problems so we can’t pursue that route.” A 90-second investment of time can prevent the employee’s feeling humiliated and disaffected in the long-term.

If you’re naturally low on the empathy scale, at least know you have this deficiency and that there is a cost to it. You can learn to check yourself and do what does not come naturally: before you act, school yourself to think of the people who will be affected and what your action will mean to them. And try to remember to not just recognize but care about that impact on others. You can also make sure you have a trusted advisor who fills in the gap in your skillset. That advisor must be empowered to stop you if you’re forgetting that there are other people in the world and that their feelings and agendas are not the same as yours—and that these matter.

Whatever your natural endowment for empathy, your capacity for empathy and skill at deploying it waxes and wanes with your own physical and mental state. If you’re ill or tired, it’s hard to have empathy for anyone but yourself. If you’re in the throes of creative excitement, it’s disruptive to consider the perspective of others. And that’s fine, as long as it doesn’t last too long and you know to check back in with the human beings around you.

Don’t confuse empathy with making people happy or being nice. Sometimes you’ll suss out another’s perspective and feelings and purposefully ignore them. Or even use it to gain an advantage. Essentially empathy is a neutral data gathering tool that enables you to understand the human environment within which you are operating in business and therefore make better predictions, craft better tactics, inspire loyalty and communicate clearly.

Original Article in Forbes by Prudy Gourguechon here.

Two Simple Words That Help Drive Employee Engagement and Company Results

Employee EngagementWhen you put people first, profits follow.

You don’t get to be in the 100 Best Companies to Work For, for 19 years in a row, just by luck.

So when I saw that one of my local firms had achieved that goal, I went to meet with them to find out just how they had done that.

When I asked Stephanie Slate, Director of Talent Acquisition at JM Family Enterprises, a $14.9billion company, how they achieved such great levels of employee engagement, Stephanie’s put me straight right from the get go.

“Firstly,” Stephanie said “we don’t call people employees, we call them Associates. This is critical to our corporate culture because we want people to feel that they work with us, and not for us.”

“Secondly our high associate engagement comes from a simple philosophy of People First. This is has been embedded into our culture, and it’s this that really makes the difference.”

Now, to be honest, People First is not a concept that I was hearing of for the first time.

In fact, I would say that the majority of CEO’s talk about People First cultures, but given that 68% of staff in the US are disengaged, clearly not everyone is walking the talk, so what is JM Family doing differently.

Stephanie said, “To create the People First culture, you need to have leaders who live the culture, which founder Jim Moran did, as does current CEO Colin Brown, and you need to recruit people that fit into that culture to both to maintain and strengthen it.”

Cultural fit is the most important recruitment quality that JM Family looks for in potential.

If a candidate has amazing skills but won’t fit the culture, then they don’t get hired. Stephanie mentioned that JM Family would even hire people with a great cultural fit and train them in the skills needed for the position, such is the importance of cultural fit to them.

So what does a People First culture look like?

During our conversation, there were several key themes that kept re-emerging, and these were.

  • Respect
  • Caring
  • Communication and Connection
  • Empowerment
  • Opportunities
  • Appreciation

Respect

JM Family wants their associates to feel both valued and respected. They encourage the new associates to ask questions, to be curious, and they listen to them, even the new associates.

With every new change that comes along, one of the first questions to be asked by senior management is “how will this impact our associates?’

Caring

The company cares about its associates, and it shows that by offering an excellent benefits package, but the caring extends well beyond that. They have medical staff and daycare services on site at main locations; they have several programs they have implemented and support that helps associates in times of hardship.

They even have a LifeCare Program, which is like an Associate concierge service that helps with non-work related issues. Stephanie said that she had used that service to help find a florist for her wedding.

Communication and Connection

Communication is key to ensuring that your associates feel like they work with you and not for you. During the onboarding process, all new Associates get to meet with a Vice President for a day, the Executive Management Team and are invited to a group Q&A session with the CEO.

They get to speak with them and ask them questions first hand. This not only helps the communication flow but also helps to make good connections between the new Associates and the Executive Management team.

I was also surprised to see that everyone calls the CEO by his first name and are very comfortable to approach him. This was something that I actually witnessed rather than was just told about.

Empowerment

Associates are encouraged to ask questions and to challenge things, although this has to be done constructively and in ways that will benefit the company. They also encourage associates to try new things and to learn from their mistakes, rather than to punish or criticize them for it.

This helps to create an empowered workforce that is proactive when they see opportunities to benefit the company.

Opportunities

One of the key reasons people cite for leaving their employers is a lack of career development and opportunities. When a company takes an approach where they hire for cultural fit and willing to train for a position, and they have five different divisions, there will always be opportunities to either advance or to try something different.

Appreciation

Appreciation is one of our most basic needs, after food, shelter, and safety, and JM Family do a great job at showing their Associates that they are appreciated. They have regular appreciation dinners and awards, and they also have a peer to peer appreciation program which allows people to recognize their colleagues for great work that they have done. Sometimes great work goes unseen by management, but programs like this allow for people to be recognized by their peers and for their efforts to be brought to the attention of the management.

So it’s great that JM Family has been ranked in the Top 100 companies 19 years in a row, but what does all this mean to the bottom line?

JM Family’s staff turnover rate is 7.1 percent, which is well below their competitors, which helps to reduce cost, which increases profit.

Their staff stays with the company 10.1 years on average, which compares very favorably with the national average of 4.2, and are happy to recommend the company, and the majority of new hires come from referrals which help to keep down recruitment costs and ensures that any open positions are filled quickly.

They have achieved record revenues in each of the last five years, with an average revenue growth of around 12 percent per year since 2011.

When you put your people first you create an engaged, excited and empowered work force, which helps to keep costs down and revenues growing.

Original Article by Gordon Tredgold- here