Motivation

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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

 

Emotional Control was key to Irish Rugby 6 nations Victory over England

Joe Schmidt and his team did a wonderful job on the emotional management of the Ireland team on Saturday last. With so much on the line and in such a cauldron of intensity and pressure they played angry and cool – a potent combination.

Rugby is a funny old sport for many reasons. Such as the fact that a 6ft 11in second row can play alongside a 5ft 9in who is 8 stone lighter, that you move forward by passing backward and that you beat seven shades of **** out of one another and shake hands with and cheer the opposition afterwards.

The physical and mental challenge particularly at the top level is daunting and I remember meeting many Americans on rugby tours, who can’t believe we play this game without padding and helmets like American Football. To be up for the challenge, to be able to give the sort of effort for this period of time requires a teeth gritting intensity of emotion that has to be raised and then maintained for the full game. Different players get there in different ways, some use anger, some fear and some pure will.

To meet some of the challenges of “putting your body on the line” requires getting into a state of mind that ignores pain as required and which ignores what you are putting your body through. Two 16 stone centres run into one another at speed, there is a 32 stone collision magnified by the momentum, there is effectively a car crash, inertia, g-force and falling to the ground without the ability to use your arms (one pair is protecting the ball and the other pair is making the tackle). When they get up after the first tackle all they have to do is do it another 20 times, while running 7-10 miles in 1000 directions at 10 different speeds while staying aware of every attempt by the opposition to invent a way around them.

So this requires emotional regulation. Fast thinking (as per nobel winner Dr Daniel_Kahneman) of the sort required to react fast and make decisions in milliseconds is generally emotional in nature and it is also supported by good habits learned over years. Slow thinking – meaning thinking with the linear process-driven side of your head about the game and staying cool to make the right tactical decisions is different. Too much emotion can cause this part of your brain (with plans-logic-control) to be hard to access as your amygdala ( the part of your brain which has a primary role in the processing decision-making and emotional reactions) goes too much into fight or flight mode and your thinking and some of your habit based learning suffers or shuts down. Too much pressure to perform also shuts it down – interestingly a psychologist once told me we are most vulnerable to this as teenagers right around the time of the leaving cert (!).

It is well known by cognitive psychologists that too much pressure causes the player to use the same pathways to perform a skill that he or she used while learning the skill – like learning to drive versus experienced driving which is almost automatic. This is illustrated in sport by a study that showed that soccer players in the World Cup taking penalty kicks in the shootout to decide a game’s outcome are twice as likely to miss if they are kicking “not to lose” rather than kicking to win their game. Same goal, situation and ball but just a pressure difference.

Look at the pivotal role of the coach and/or leader in all of this. Trying to get the players ready to function with the punishment and intensity yet trying to keep them thinking so they play cute but also to their maximum physical capacity. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking pressure off. Joe Schmidt the Ireland coach has shown the skills to do this alongside the leaders in the team. Think of the narrow window through which he must motivate and engage his team. Enough intensity but not too much. Enough pressure to perform but no too much. Last Saturday was a masterclass.

Organisational and business teams who understand and use emotion rather than ignoring it – benefit from it hugely through increased performance and better outcomes in almost every area. Motivating and generating the most enthusiasm you can while keeping pressure off your team so they feel the freedom to try things, to innovate and be agile while keeping an eye on the strategy and tactics is a big challenge but necessary to be competitive in the 21st century organisation. Schmidt’s Ireland team demonstrated a level of tuned motivation and performance that was made possible by emotional understanding and control.

In rugby the famous warm-ups before matches with banging of heads etc are becoming less common – one such a man from Munster once told me about was of a French team they were playing in a club game who brought a cockerel into the dressing room before the match. During the warm-up in the dressing room my friend’s team could hear all sorts of shouting and bellowing en Francais reverberating through the thin walls. The French team ran out first and as my friend’s team passed the door to their dressing room as they followed them out, they looked in to see blood and feathers all over the place and no cockerel. “After seeing that” he said “we let them have the ball”

Aidan Higgins BE MBA of ADEO Consulting is a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist working with Leaders and Teams in Ireland and the UK. He has over 25 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes.

Learning about teamwork from Connacht’s success.

ConnachtWhat can we learn from the Connacht Pro12 victory gleaned from the wonderful team culture and leadership put together by Pat Lam?

Lets be clear, this was a massive upset. For a team that has finished in the bottom half of the table over the last number of years, to finish as Pro12 winners was an incredible feat. To get past teams in the run-in who were not weakened, as they sometimes are, by representation in the final stages of the European Cup was also incredible. They caught the eye of all the rugby playing nations with their style and passion as well as their success. As an auld Connacht rugby player myself it was emotional… “no no no I just have something in my eye…”

Was this a team full of stars? – No – but stars emerged nonetheless. Leaders were all over the pitch. Taking responsibility, making decisions, showing example. Rather than picking players who shone in this way, try to name a player who did not  – it is very difficult. They played for the guy next to them, for the crowd, for their community, their legacy. When the injury toll was high others slotted in, stepped up and played as if they had been there all season.

How does a team achieve all this? By leveraging the maximum they could from the potential of high performance teamwork. Where the sum is truly greater than the parts. Looking at the players on the pitch, with their interchangeable roles and their ability to change tactics on the move, acting in synch, one can see the purity of the team mindset.

Vision

It started with a Vision. Pat Lam set their targets and went after them – from there deciding the training, process and style of play that would garner the required performance. Look after the performance and the results look after themselves.

Humility and Service

Stories emerged early in Pat Lams tenure that he had the players up early in the morning and out sweeping the streets of Galway to get them to understand their community a bit more and to show service to their community was a priority. Understanding service is key to good leadership and good teams. It help all the individuals understand the team is the priority. Studies show that a team without egos and with the language of co-operation performs under pressure. They are always looking for solutions rather than to blame.

Trust

In a famous line from the end of the movie Black Hawk Down, Hoot, one of the rangers explains “They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.” Great teams understand this. Great rugby defences understand this too! The ability to trust the guy next to you, to trust your coach and to trust the system was all key to success. One story emerged after the final game, that the players chipped in to make sure 4 players that had trained with them during the year but had not played were also able to travel to Edinburgh with the team. Leave no man behind indeed.

Agility and Autonomy

During the games one could see that the players were adapting to the defence in front of them. Adapting to the moves of the opposition. This allowed the team to make decisions under pressure without fear. Rigid systems in rugby tend to have the players thinking only about the system, blind to the moves of their opposition. Similarly bureaucratic organisations whose adoption of change can be torturously slow. Agile autonomous teams can make decisions because they do not fear trying things and making mistakes. Because they are empowered to do so. Players would often go to Pat Lam after matches and say “sorry for that Pat” and he would reply – “well what did you learn from it?” It is also critical with empowerment that the required skills are there so that the team members can take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. This too was part of the plan and part of the training.

Joy in the game

When we enjoy what we do we jump out of bed in the morning, looking forward to the day. The style of joyous rugby being played by Connacht and the passion engendered by being part of something bigger than themselves improved commitment and workrate and added a meter of pace (or a bounce in the step) to players. The mindset is so important in rugby. So too in organisations. Home and away results show the importance of this. Its the same size pitch with the same posts so whats different?

I remember in the early nineties, the Sportsground held far more greyhound races than rugby matches. Connacht players played with passion but mostly on the losing side and travelled long nights on dark roads, often the rain to scrummaging or training sessions in Athlone and similar venues. We had then a raucous, faithful but small crowd watching the games in one isolated stand. Connacht have come so far since then – its incredible. One commentator put it well – “from dog track to top dog”…. indeed.

Aidan Higgins BE MBA of ADEO Consulting is a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist working with Leaders and Teams in Ireland and the UK. He has over 25 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes.

2019-04-10T09:21:24+00:00June 1st, 2016|Leadership, Motivation, Team Performance|

Leaderships good intentions have a big blind-spot.

Leadership and CultureModern organisational leadership requires a whole new set of perspectives and competencies. Competition is no longer just for market share but for the right people. The performance of those people must be leveraged through developing engagement which means ensuring empowerment and motivation.

Leadership strategy in the business schools emphasises Vision and Mission first – which are different things – although surprisingly so many leaders do not get the difference. They are about purpose and direction. The Vision sets the purpose and the Mission the direction/goals/objectives. This difference is critical particularly as new generations of knowledge workers are more interested in the former than the latter.

Microsoft’s vision, famously, was ”a computer in every home”. It was about empowerment of the individual, in a time when computers were available only to large organisations. Great idea, great purpose, great results.

The challenges for large organisations are based around the ability to innovate, the ability to adapt (agility) and the ability to attract and retain great talent. Organisations which have the first two tend to have the third. Why? Because a company that is good at innovation has the space and ability to take risks that allows autonomy and learning to blossom. Environments like this allow people to make a difference and to grow and learn and they are highly motivational. The opposite of this approach kills companies. Read this report on Nokia for example: Nokia.

We do not motivate people, we create the environments that allow them to be self-motivated.

Agility means the ability to adapt, so autonomy and authority must be pushed out to the coal face, to the people that work with the customers or consumers. If you give your people these freedoms and coach them to enable accurate risk assessment and decision making you again create that motivating environment.

The millennial generation, today anyone below 35 years old, own many of the competencies required to thrive in purposeful organizations and are coming up on 50% of the available talent pool. Organisations must provide the motivational environment to attract this talent or they will wither and die.

But most good Leaders know this. The challenge is how to implement this in their organisation. Where to start? One issue is the lack of recognition of the culture that exists. Like a fish in water they are not aware that water is all around them. I know myself of the highs of gaining an understanding at a training course or conference and going back to the organisation full of good intentions. And then slowly and surely forgetting them as the organisational norm floods in and quenches the fire.

The main blind-spot is culture recognition. As Peter Drucker famously said:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Cultural change is key to improving organisational performance. It must be done in tandem with the process. Processes are easy to see and change particularly for the solution finding leadership style. Culture is the Mammoth in the room.

Culture change is possible of course with a plan, a communications strategy, time, and the will to make the changes. It requires true emotionally intelligent leadership; walking the talk, resonating the why and communicating the purpose throughout the organisation while sustaining the will to make the changes against constant opposition. This is the secret to turning good intentions into great results.

Aidan Higgins BE MBA of ADEO Consulting is a Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork specialist working with Leaders and Teams in Ireland and the UK. He has over 25 years experience working in various capacities with individuals, teams and organisations of all sizes.

Emotional Intelligence and Teams

Emotional intelligence and teamsFor the past twenty years, important research has been done in organizations that backs up the claims made in the nineties relating to Emotional Intelligence and its importance by Goleman and many others. Research has shown that feelings and emotions have a direct impact on effectiveness, efficiency and ultimately the bottom line.

Emotional Intelligence has been shown to lead to better customer retention and long term customer relationships, and improved: Trust, Engagement, Influencing, Collaboration, Communication, Decision Making and Change Capability it also leads to Reduced Conflict.

Numerous studies explore the financial implication of emotional intelligence; particularly how higher EQ leaders produce more powerful business results. One such study tested 186 executives on EQ and compared their scores with their company’s profitability; leaders who scored higher in key aspects of emotional intelligence (including empathy and accurate self-awareness) were more likely to be highly profitable.  Leadership and Organization Development Journal 2009

Looking at the emotional intelligence of teams is important because most of the work in organizations today is done by teams. Leaders have a pressing need today to make teams work together better.

Modern businesses thrive when using teams to organize the work. Teams have more talent and experience, more diversity of resources, and greater operating flexibility than individual performers. Research in the last decade has proven the superiority of group decision-making over that of even the brightest individual in
the group. But the exception to this rule is when the group lacks harmony or the ability to cooperate. Then decision-making quality and speed suffer.

The important difference between effective teams and ineffective ones lies in the emotional intelligence of  the group. Teams have an emotional intelligence of their own. It is comprised of the emotional intelligence of individual members, plus a collective competency of the group. Everyone contributes to the overall level of emotional intelligence, and the leader has more influence. The good news is that teams can develop greater emotional intelligence and boost their performance.Teamwork performance improved by 25% in terms of goal achievement over standard functioning teams.

Most research has focused on identifying the tasks and processes that make teams successful. But just learning a script won’t make a good actor great; the actor has to be able to deliver the lines with real feeling. A piano student can learn the music of Bach, but she has to be able to play with heart to be really good. Successful teams can apply the principles of effective task processes, but they must also work together wholeheartedly.

Group Emotional Intelligence

In an article entitled “Building the Emotional Intelligence of groups,” Vanessa Urch Druskat and Steven B. Wolff (Harvard Business Review, March 2001) identify three conditions essential to a group’s effectiveness:

  • Trust among members
  • A sense of group identity
  • A sense of group efficacy

To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms — the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits — that support behaviors for building trust, group identity and group efficacy. Group identity is described as a feeling among members that they belong to a unique and worthwhile group. A sense of group efficacy is the belief that the team can perform well and that group members are more effective working together than apart.

Group emotional intelligence is not a question of catching emotions as they bubble up and then suppressing them. It involves courageously bringing feelings out into the open and dialoging about how they affect the team’s work. If emotions are avoided, there is a false or superficial tone that “everything’s just fine.” Groups cannot work together without having personalities that butt up against each other. Admitting to this is the first step in clarifying and finding common ground upon which to move forward.

Group emotional intelligence is also about behaving in ways that build relationships both inside and outside the team. Building relationships strengthens the team’s ability to face challenges. In order to strengthen relationships, the group must feel safe to be able to explore, embrace and ultimately to rely on emotions in work. Emotions must be considered for the good of the group. Feelings count, but then there are the tasks at hand and the work that needs to be done. Team leaders must constantly balance harmony with productivity.

A team’s effectiveness can depend on how well it works together in harmony. A leader skilled in creating good feelings can keep cooperation high. Good team leaders know how to balance the focus on productivity with attention to member’s relationships and their ability to connect. There is even research that shows that humor at work can stimulate creativity, open lines of communications and enhance a sense of trust. Playful joking increases the likelihood of concessions during a negotiation. Emotionally intelligent team leaders know how to use humor and playfulness with their teams.

Creating good moods in employees may be even more important than previously thought. It is common sense to see that workers who feel upbeat will go the extra mile to please customers and therefore improve the bottom line. There is research to show that for every 1 percent improvement in the service climate, there’s a 2 percent increase in revenue. New research from a range of industries now reaffirms the link between leadership and climate and to business performance. According to Daniel Goleman in Primal Leadership (2002), how people feel about working at a company can account for 20 to 30 percent of business performance.

Part of understanding the emotional reality of a team is uncovering the particular habits ingrained in a team or organization that can drive behaviors. A prime example is the notion of “It’s just the way we do things here.” The team leader is effective when he or she looks for signs that reveal if such habits are working or not. It is the leader’s job to explore and expose unhealthy work habits in order to build more effective group norms.

In any group, people will eventually cross lines and confrontation becomes necessary. There must be a means for doing this that is firm yet not demeaning. The team leader sets the tone for this because of the position he or she is in. Caring confrontation is an art that can be learned and taught to both leaders and members. The use of humor can be very effective as a means for bringing errant members back into the group fold. The message is, “We want you as part of this group, your contributions are needed.”

These are the group norms that build trust and a sense of group identity for members: interpersonal understanding, perspective taking, confrontation and caring. They can be learned and developed wherever they don’t exist naturally. It may take some time and attention, but they are too important to be overlooked. Teams are at the very foundation of organizational effectiveness and they won’t work without mutual trust and common commitment to goals.

Building self-managing teams that have emotional intelligence

One of the first tasks of a team leader is to build greater team awareness. This is the job of each individual member of the team, as well, but the leader’s job is to instill a sense of responsibility individuals for the well-being of the team. In order to do so, Cary Cherniss, chair of a well-known research group on emotional intelligence, puts forth ground rules for teams. Everyone on the team should take responsibility for:

  • Keeping us on track if we get off track
  • Facilitating group input
  • Raising questions about procedures, asking for clarification about where we are going and offering summaries of issues being discussed to make sure we have a shared understanding
  • Using good listening skills to build on the ongoing discussion or to clearly signal that we want to change the subject, and ask if that is okay

This is an example of how a leader can create a self-managing team. What is important for the leader, emphasizes Cherniss, is to remind the group of its collaborative norms by making them explicit. Everyone can practice them because they are upfront and repeated at each meeting.

Clearly the setting forth of core values and operating norms is important to ensure that a team works smoothly together. But like most things, they must be repeated again and again. When values and norms are clear, teams can go about their work even in the absence of the leader.
In self-aware self-managing teams, members hold each other accountable for sticking to norms. It takes a strong emotionally intelligent leader to hold the team to such responsibility. Many teams are not accustomed to proactively handling emotions and habits. And many leaders have difficulty stepping out of the role of director in order to let teams self-direct.

However, when the values and norms are clear, and self-management principles are explicit and practiced over time, teams become not only effective, but also self-reinforcing. Being on the team leads to positive emotions that energize and motivate people.

Every company faces specific performance challenges for which teams are the most practical and powerful vehicle. The critical challenge for senior managers is how to develop emotionally intelligent teams that can deliver maximum performance. Teams have a unique potential to deliver results, and executives must foster self-managing and emotionally intelligent teams that will be effective. In doing so, top management creates the kind of environment that enables teams as well as individuals to thrive. So the Organisation can thrive.

Good Leaders understand and use Autonomy

I was coaching a number of C-Suite Leaders from a large multi-national a few weeks ago and part of our work included the topic of Autonomy and its importance to Leadership. Great discussions and feedback reminded me there are some assumptions and some blind spots with regard to autonomy.

Autonomy and Motivation

The level of autonomy is the degree to which an organisation or leader gives their people the discretion or independence to schedule their work and determine how it is to be done. It can also mean allowing them to determine which work to do, trusting them to select their solution to a problem using their understanding of organisational strategy in the context of the organisations vision and goals.

Autonomy is important to motivation, one of the top three people motivators in fact. It helps your people feel they have some say in what happens and that they can make a difference in the world.

Autonomy is a key part of empowerment and engagement so including it and using it as part of one’s Leadership style is very important.

In a bureaucratic or hierarchical organisation autonomy is limited. Not only is this de-motivational but it retards decision making, response times, service quality and people growth over time. The more decisions people can make the more they learn and grow. Sometimes people make mistakes. People make less mistakes with experience, and when supported by training and communication and an understanding of the goals and objectives even less. Autonomy also allows the growth of your next stage of leaders who take over when decision makes leave or go missing.

 

How much Autonomy is needed?

This is something to judge in context. There is a difference between delegation and abdication. Throwing someone in at the deep end can teach them to swim, but sometimes they drown.

A good leader will encourage autonomy in their people. They will make a decision about the level of risk suitable to the roles involved. They will look at risk and work to mitigate through mentoring and support. So it is a complex decision but in general there is not enough autonomy given. Leaders who keep intervening to fix the problem are often well meaning but this is not the best solution in the long term. Serving your team is about putting in place that which is needed for the team to thrive. Some leaders only give Autonomy to some of their people and often need to review how their perspective or opinion of some of their people (particularly those not being given autonomy) is influencing who gets autonomy and who does not. This can be a blind spot.

 

Leaderships own Autonomy

It is also a good exercise to examine one’s own relationship with autonomy. A Leader who has no autonomy is not a Leader.  He or she is a manager. In a bureaucratic organisation, a “leader” who is all about control and “the rules” cannot inspire or motivate or engage the people around him. If this person becomes about growing his or her people, about carving out autonomy and with resources, empowerment – then he or she becomes a leader.

On the other hand a leader who is overly focused on their own autonomy may have problems aligning with the organisations goals and objectives. This can become apparent when change happens and the organisation is forced to change direction. Sometimes these leaders become about their own power, whether this is used for their own ends or to protect their own team this can cause tensions in the organisation.

A key part of leadership growth is to become aware of their relationship with autonomy. Both their own and that of their people. Part of this relationship is often emotional and often this can be a part of mindfulness or awareness work.

Aidan Higgins

What is this Employee Engagement that is so critical to Organisational success?

IMG_1207The now well circulated Gallup Poll of 2013 on Employee Engagement found that on average up to 70% of employees were not engaged with their organisation effectively meaning 35% of spend on people was wasted. Further a large portion of these employees were actively working against the interests of their organisation. These numbers are scary. The estimated cost to the US economy is 500Bn (yes Billion) per annum. It also means that in an average 100 employee company it costs around 1.5 Million per annum – excluding the cost of negative activity.

Employee engagement is an enabler for the factors an organization needs to thrive – better customer satisfaction and retention, better employee retention, increased sales and increased productivity. Engaged employees excel at what they do.

So what is engagement?

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.

To engage employees it is necessary to provide an environment and a culture, through Leadership and good management practice, that encourages alignment with the Organisations goals:

Employees are clear about what is expected of them at work. They also know their boundaries and limits. They can take a risk and know someone has their back.

Employees feel they are listened to and that their opinion counts and makes a difference.

Everybody feels they are moving forward, learning and growing. This is more than just experience, its learning new skills, adapting to new challenges and keeping up with changes.

The people who work in the company are given the materials and resources to do their job. They can focus on doing the job, not resourcing it.

Everyone understands the “why” of the organisation. What it is the Organisation is about.  This aligns with the individual’s purpose and values.

Employees get to be their best, work their best and reach their potential while doing their job. The Organisation does not get in the way of them doing their job – for example systems, paperwork, form filling etc. do not become the main activity.

People work in teams that are jointly committed to quality work, similar effort and which are led, or managed, to ensure strong relations, fairness and team as well as individual recognition.

Praise or feedback is received regularly (weekly) and is tied to evaluating and discussing  overall progress and upskilling. Personal development is encouraged and the “Boss” or “Manager” cares about the employee as a person.

The key to engagement is to create an environment and a culture which encourages Autonomy, Motivation, Empowerment and Positive Realism. It requires Authentic Leadership and a Service focus to encourage the fairness, trust and safety in which to grow the potential of your people and your Organisation.

Aidan Higgins

The tools for a radical new kind of leadership

Dr Scilla Elworthy with Desmond Tutu.

Dr Scilla Elworthy with Desmond Tutu. Photograph: Rosie Houldsworth

Working with leaders like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, Scilla Elworthy has learned that inner work is the most important prerequisite for effective leadership

Brilliance, charisma and eloquence are essential gifts for a leader, but they are no longer sufficient. In a world of spin, unsubstantiated claims and the pressure of lobbyists, today’s leaders have to be credible. We have to have a reason to believe them.

This not only needs a radical rethinking of values; it requires work. That work is internal, because the leaders needed today have to be authentic and you can only discover your authenticity by enquiring within.

In half a century of working with leaders in key conflict areas, such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, the most important lesson I learned was that inner work is a prerequisite for effectiveness. Results achieved by a leader are in direct ratio to their perceived authenticity.

I also see this in those supported by Peace Direct, who risk their lives daily so that others don’t get killed. They have addressed and overcome their fear. Henri Bura Ladyi regularly faces militants in the Congolese bush to trade goats for child soldiers, and takes the children home to their families. He and his colleagues have convinced 4,532 militia fighters to lay down their weapons and leave the bush.

People recognise this kind of courage instantly. It means you care less about your own safety or reputation than about what you are trying to achieve for others.

Daily priorities are changing from ‘me’ to ‘we’

This is the dramatic underlying shift in leadership that is beginning to take place – the change in daily priorities from ‘me’ to ‘we’. Such leaders care less about how much they have and more about how much they can offer. They want to improve things for others, rather than impress.

This approach requires a radical revision of how we see the world and young social entrepreneurs are at the cutting edge of it. During the summer of 2013 I helped train young entrepreneurs from Colombia, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Kenya, Mauritius, India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Uganda, Ukraine and the UK to become builders of the kind of world they want.

There were 100 applicants for every place on the course, run by the Do School based in Hamburg, Germany. The alumni of previous courses are back home, using the skills they learned. Do School fellows work on their start-ups in more than 50 countries, spending over 30,000 hours working on innovative ventures to solve local problems in their communities, touching the lives of over 100,000 people. In response to demand, hundreds of such courses are now being run around the world.

Besides all the technical skills they needed to research their projects, build a website, raise start-up funds and so on, I taught them the inner skills that are vital in really transforming the world: skills to build trust in their teams, resolve conflict quickly and effectively, and speak truth to power.

Self-awareness at the individual level is what can enable each person to wake up and do what’s needed to ensure our future on this planet – to change the world from the bottom up. I’m certain a different future for all humanity is possible, if only leaders wake up.

Waking up means more than just quiet meditation

Interestingly, this is happening now in the corporate world. Reflection, mindfulness and inner work are all seen as essential tools by many leading companies, and extensively featured in the Financial Times and on the cover of Time Magazine.

But waking up means more than just quiet meditation. It means the kind of self-awareness and self-knowledge that can only be gained by honest self-questioning.

Working with the global executives of a major international company recently, I asked them to sit in pairs for 40 minutes. They had to keep eye contact and listen intently while their partner answered questions like: “what’s disturbing you in your life?”, “what are you yearning for?” and “what’s your highest potential?”

Each partner took a turn answering – going well below the cognitive to the gut level – and then listening, which meant giving absolute attention. At first they hated it. Bodies squirmed with the embarrassment of eye contact and personal honesty. But at the end they had a new take on this kind of work, claiming “fifteen minutes of this kind of communication is worth four hours of discussion”.

This kind of approach to communication takes a couple of days to learn and then it’s a tool for life. If businesses combine it with a radical revision of values and the courage to see beyond personal gain, it will help equip them to join the shift in leadership starting to take place globally.

If the mantra of the 20th century was “what can I get?”, the mantra of this century may well turn out to be “what can I give?”

Original Article by Scilla Elworthy from the Guardian (UK)

Emotional Intelligence improves ability to generate revenue

Emotional-Intelligence-value1At Work, Emotional Intelligence Pays

When it comes to achieving career success, emotional intelligence probably isn’t the first trait that jumps to mind. Particularly in Silicon Valley, where technical, intrapersonal skills are so celebrated that industry leaders are increasingly self-diagnosing themselves as autistic, the ability to decipher other peoples’ emotions is often dismissed as a fringe benefit.

But a new study published in The Journal of Organizational Behaviorsuggests the opposite: Emotional intelligence is a skill that, quite literally, pays. According to the paper, employees who are better at reading their coworkers’ emotions make more money than their less emotionally perceptive peers.

To gauge emotional intelligence, the researchers showed 142 study participants – all working adults, holding various level-positions in a broad range of jobs – a collection of images and voice recordings, and asked that they pinpoint the emotion being expressed in each case. “On average, the participants succeeded in 77 percent of the cases,” Gerhard Blickle, the study’s lead author, said in a press release. Participants who correctly identified 87 percent of cases were deemed good at recognizing emotions, while those that identified more than 90 percent were considered very good. Meanwhile, those that correctly identified less than 60 percent received low marks for emotional intelligence.

Next, the researchers asked one colleague along with one supervisor to rate each participant’s social astuteness on scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Sample statements included: “She always seems to instinctively know the right things to say or do to influence others” and “People believe he is sincere in what he says and does.” Participants who received high marks on the emotions test were perceived as more socially skilled by their co-workers than those who registered lower scores, and even after controlling for factors such as gender, age, weekly working hours and hierarchical position, the researchers found that they also tended to make significantly more money.

In other words, emotional intelligence is a prerequisite for wielding social influence, a skill that, in turn, is important for successfully navigating work dynamics to achieve career success as well as a higher paycheck, says Yongmei Liu, a professor at Illinois State University and one of the study’s co-authors.

Interestingly, while emotional intelligence has a warm and fuzzy ring to it, the ability to easily and accurately decipher others’ emotions doesn’t necessarily make you more empathetic – it just makes you adroit at navigating the social playing field. Like any skill, says Liu “people can use it for good or evil.”

While the study did not examine various career contexts, it makes intuitive sense that emotional intelligence is more valuable in some jobs than it is in others. For example in positions that require a lot of social interaction and/or where there are fewer objective performance indicators, emotional intelligence is likely very important, says Liu.

In fact, the researchers conclude, more emphasis should be placed on emotional intelligence when selecting managers, a role that typically requires a large amount of interaction with employees. “Often we hear managers speak of understanding and esteem,” Blickle said, “but when we look at their management behavior, we realize that they have neither.”

Original Article by Laura Entis – entrepreneur.com

Great Teams feel and act differently

teamskip2High performance teams go beyond roles and goals. Anyone who has been part of a great team knows this. They know there is something intangible there. There is something at the root of it. Something which bonds the team together and empowers it.

Those who know sports teams, and those who play with these teams feel something in it greater than themselves, an us and them, an instinctual thing. There is something there worth making the sacrifice for, putting your physical well being at risk for. It’s tribal. It’s family. It’s engrained. It leads to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. It means when someone makes a mistake, or a weaker member needs help, it’s there. Action is taken. WE succeed or WE do not succeed – together. These teams communicate, they adapt, they work together, they overcome obstacles together.

The best sports team leaders are those who would go through a brick wall for the team. Sometimes they do not speak or hardly at all they just do things. They inspire by being first to the danger, first to sacrifice, first to training. They are the sort of people you want in the trenches with you because you can trust them to cover you. To watch your back. Many times they are not the best player, but they are first on the team sheet. A first among equals. The guys you look to for inspiration when the going gets tough.

There is something else about these great teams and their leaders. They are serving something bigger, a vision, a history, a legacy. They are focused on something bigger then themselves. Maybe their community, their county, their country, their nation.

Someone once said there is no “I” in team and some smart-alec pointed out there is an “M E” … We can spot those who are part of the team but not of the teamwork. We know them. They stand apart. They can be driven by ego or selfish aims BUT they can also be driven apart when cliques form, when they don’t feel included in decisions or when they don’t feel empowered. Many teams assume they communicate enough, listen enough, provide enough autonomy to members but they often don’t. Disenfranchisement or disillusionment occurs.

In organisational teams we often do not generate these kinds of bonds, except perhaps over time. We should particularly for teams on longer projects with a significant budget. We know the roles and responsibilities but then so does a team numbered 1 to 15 or 1 to 11. What makes them effective is teamwork.

What make them great is a team identity, trust, communication, autonomy and alignment with the greater vision. Team Emotional Intelligence theory (Druskatt and Wolff) calls it Social Capital – which, when improved can effect a 25% improvement in performance – for teams who are already performing with average scores.

The team members know who they are, who they represent and what they are trying to achieve. They serve the higher purpose rather than their own purpose. Yes they know the goals, but they are also clear on the why of the goals. They work with their fellow team members, supporting the weaker ones and generating loyalty and engagement.

We can recognise from the talk within the team how successful they are likely to be. It’s not about being positive all the time but on understanding what outside control of the team, understanding that set-backs are temporary and specific. A famous study by Martin Seligman of American baseball teams monitored the language used after games in the media engagement to predict success. He suggested what he heard in these discussions could predict success. He also looked for more about a focus on WE rather than I and an ability to puts losses or problems in context. He then bet against the spread to prove his point. He won.

Great teams are driven by peer pressure to perform not their bosses. It’s about not letting down the other people on the team. At the end of that incredible movieBlack Hawk Down – one of the incredibly talented, effective and brave rangers turns to his buddy and says – When I go home people’ll ask me, “Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?” You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a goddamn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.”

Indeed.