We believe that the only long-term competitive advantage that any organization has is its people. In training and supporting leaders and managers to improve employee engagement and build better teams, we help you achieve your business goals and improve the quality of work life for you and your employees.
The data wizards at Gallup have identified 12 questions that predict employee engagement.
Organizations whose employees score higher in these 12 questions get better results across the board on all fundamental business metrics that you care about, including profitability, productivity, turnover, safety and more.
How can you use these 12 questions? In our leadership program we ask managers to rank them in order of importance based on their own priorities. Then, they identify 3 out of the 12 that they want their team to rank highest. When they compare their responses with other managers at their table, they often find some consistency but also significant differences with their peers. That’s often their first ‘aha’ moment–Not everyone has the same priorities.
Then, as part of their homework, they ask each of their employees to rank the 12 questions based on what is important to them. Then the manager and his team share and discuss their rankings. When managers report back on this exercise at the next class, we hear about the lively discussions that take place with their teams. Two questions that seem to spur the most discussion and debate are ‘I have a best friend at work’ and ‘I’ve had recognition in the last 7 days’.
What’s the net outcome from this exercise? When the manager shares her own rankings, she is being vulnerable and more approachable. This provides the employees with the opportunity to open up and be vulnerable too.
Managers find out what’s important to each of their employees and, if they follow up on those items, trust goes way up. This is because the employees see that their manager is paying attention – they feel “heard”. You see the same effect between employees. Understanding and trust grow as employees share their lists and the explanations behind their priorities.
This exercise is productive and fun. Managers and employees get into energetic, insightful and fun discussions about a very important topic.
This is just one of the many activities that managers use in our highly interactive program to engage their employees, as they learn how to build high performance teams.
Download your free copy of this exercise, here.
Learn more about the Manager’s Roadmap to Success, here.
Attend the next Roadmap Leadership Development Program, starting in August 2018.
Maybe you thought you could be a good manager based on your expertise in a particular area. Maybe you thought you were effective at leading groups of people toward a common goal. Or maybe you were chosen to be the manager on the basis of seniority in the group or someone else’s assessment that you could be effective in that role.
However it happened, a certain amount of your ego was involved, which is good. Even if you didn’t actively pursue a management role, you accepted the responsibility of the role. It’s good to start any role with the confidence that you’re going to be successful.
Your next step though, should be to check your ego. If you’re like most managers and leaders I know, you have challenging business goals and your world is constantly changing, ranging from hard to chaotic. Every day brings new issues.
The good news is that it’s not just you who’s battling those issues and challenges. You have a team that can help. The key question is ‘Will they?’ How do you get your employees to follow you into the daily business battle? Checking your ego and putting your employees first will put you on track. You need to figure out how to get the best from every one of your employees.
Can you help your employees feel valued?
Can you do what it takes to make your employees successful?
Can you recognize their achievements?
Will you ask them what’s important to them at work?
Can you help them grow?
Answering these questions involves setting your ego aside. Putting your employees first is putting your business first, and this is key for you to be successful.
Can you set your ego aside?
If you could use some help answering the questions above, please contact us! We have programs that can help, including individual coaching.
This is one of the first questions I ask anyone who tells me that they want to become a manager. They almost always choose something like:
I excelled in my previous, non-management role.
It’s the next step in my career path, which means I get a promotion.
It’s more money.
It gives me higher status.
I’m owed the positions because I had the most experience.
Do any of these ring true for you? Other than “I’m owed,” these are all valid reasons to consider a management position. But you owe it to yourself and your potential direct reports to dig deeper into your motivations.
Some Very Capable Employees Don’t Really Want to Manage Others
There are actually some employees who seem like they might have the abilities and characteristics to be good managers, but who have that rare ability to know themselves well. They understand how difficult it can be to be a good manager, including the extra hours. They will opt out when someone suggests that they move into management.
Being a Manager is Hard. Being a Good Manager is REALLY Hard.
It is really hard to be an effective manager. It is estimated that 60% of managers fail in the first two years. Some of the obstacles that stand in the way include:
Managing employees uses a different skill set than being an individual contributor. The skills that enabled you to succeed as an employee won’t necessarily make you successful as a manager. In fact, they may get in the way. The hard-charging sales person may find that approach completely backfires when she has to manager other sales employees.
Being a good manager requires a more varied skill set than a non-manager role. This includes “soft,” relationship skills and analytical, business skills. This is a tricky combination of abilities. Do you possess some of both?
Your employees aren’t a direct extension of you. You don’t control them. You have to influence your employees in order to achieve results through them. Can you influence others effectively?
You have to create an environment where employees are motivated to do good work for your team and the company. What is the current environment in the organization and can you make it better for employees?
You may face a lack of support from your company. If your management team doesn’t value good management practices and doesn’t provide management training, you may feel like you are on an island, isolated and unequipped for your role.
You may be saddled with an ineffective team. It can be difficult to get poor performing employees off your team and good employees on board.
You may be overwhelmed by your workload. This is especially true if you don’t quite know how to effectively delegate and give up the tasks from your previous role. Can you quickly stop “doing” and start delegating?
Advice If You Are Considering a Management Role
There are several steps you can take to see if management is right for you before you make the leap.
First, take on responsibilities that allow you to indirectly manage employees, or a group of employees, without actually becoming their manager. Volunteer to lead a project or an initiative for your company. That way you can test-drive being a manager. Another thing you can do, when it’s appropriate, is to sit in for your manager while she is on vacation. You can take on some of her responsibilities but not her entire role.
Find a mentor who is currently a successful manager. Find out what she likes and doesn’t like about being a manager, and the path she took to become a successful manager. If you do become a manager, try to maintain that relationship with your mentor to get their on-going perspective and advice.
Take advantage of management training if at all possible. Your company may provide training. Also, there are programs that are available at community colleges and on-line that will help prepare you.
I don’t want to turn you away from being a manager. I just want you to go in with your eyes wide open, not just focused on the promotion, the money and the other tempting perks of being a manager.
Sometimes, it helps to talk with someone outside your company. We offer coaching for managers and individual contributors who are considering management. Contact us to learn more about how we can help!
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I certainly did with my family in Moab.
When this time of year comes, I think about Thanksgiving from a personal standpoint. I pause, think about this last year, and make a list of things I’m thankful for. The extra time away from my normal routine gives me the mental space I don’t normally have.
This is also an incredibly powerful exercise to do while thinking about your work, your employees and your team. If you’re a manager, you can even sync this with your performance reviews. This may be a timely exercise since so many organizations complete reviews this time of year.
How do you do this? There isn’t any one way. It can be as simple as taking 20 minutes and revisiting this last year. Here are some great questions to get you started.
What were my accomplishments and shortfalls?
Who was involved and what did they contribute?
What obstacles arose during the year?
What did I learn?
How did I grow?
Who and what am I thankful for?
You can do this individually or with your entire team. I am a big fan of creating history maps with teams because everyone contributes to the team’s story of this last year. We know stories are incredibly powerful. Individually and as a team, you list what you learned and what you are thankful for.
The benefits of this simple process to you are:
The mental renewal of slowing down and making sense of the past
Learning from the past and understanding how much you’ve grown
Setting yourself up for success in the future (since we know the best predictor of future success is our past and current performance)
Gaining the power of positivity
A more cohesive and positive team with everyone participating
Creating a positive mental framework while you complete those performance reviews
This is a great way to end one year and begin another. We’ll have more on how to accelerate your team’s start to the next year in our January 2018 blog. Happy New Year!
At the beginning of our Manager’s Roadmap Program, we ask our participating managers what they find challenging in their role and what it is they enjoy about managing their teams.
Managers often feel caught between the demands of their company AND their employees. Their challenges and enjoyments truly reflect that.
Challenges in being a manager
Diversity in Several Forms– Managers cited how diverse their employees are in age, race and personalities. This creates communication challenges for the manager in working with their employees one-on-one, and also the potential for conflict within their diverse team.
The Disruptive Employee – This is the employee who has been problematic over a period of time. The manager doesn’t know how to address the disruptive behavior or feels like they don’t have the organization’s support to take action.
Time Management – This is a recurring issue whenever we offer the Manager’s Roadmap Program. Managers have very high demands on their time and energy from their direct managers. Other departments also demand time and energy. Thus, many feel like they are in too many meetings. They feel like they are just getting by, and just getting the work done. This exacerbates the next challenge.
Ineffective Delegation – Managers don’t know how to effectively delegate work to their employees. Some have challenges in doing it in such a way that their employees stay engaged. Others are high achievers. So, it is difficult to delegate tasks to someone they don’t trust to uphold their same standards.
Managing Up and Across – Many managers feel they need to manage up, but with differing reasons. Some managers see opportunities to make a positive impact in the organization, but they don’t feel they have the support to make the required changes. Some managers feel the need to buffer their employees, or even their whole team, from the next level or senior management.
Conflicting Business Goals – Managers reference that their goals are often in conflict with the goals of other managers. It is a challenge to get work done when they don’t have the support of other managers. The workplace then feels like it becomes political.
What they enjoy about being a manager
Coaching Employees to Success and Growth –Managers see employees come to their teams with limited skills, knowledge, and confidence. Then, those same people grow into their roles. Many managers cite the promotions their employees receive as a source of tremendous pride.
Winning and Celebrating Success– Managers like to win and have their teams feel successful. They enjoy celebrating those wins with their teams.
Contributing to the Organization – Managers see the impact they have on the organization. They feel good about that. Some even see that they influence how the organization works and solve significant issues.
Building and Leading a Team – Managers enjoy getting their employees aligned to common goals and building a team. Some reference clearing roadblocks so their team can do their work and be successful.
Growing Their Leadership Abilities – Some managers have been in their roles for a long time and are able to see that they’ve grown their own leadership skills on the job.
Being a manager is challenging, but every manager who has participated in our program has had a strong desire to be successful and to make a difference for his or her employees AND company.
They need help with the challenges! You need to provide them help and support so they can be successful.
One critical way you can support them is to provide the training they really want. Our Successful Managers Roadmap has proven to be highly successful in helping managers navigate these challenges.
As your organization’s HR leader, you need to insist on excellent leaders and managers. Yes, this is what your overall business needs, but excellent versus poor managers really impact HR. And you must insist that others in your business understand the degree to which poor managers effect your department.
So, let me recount just two key ways that poor managers negatively impact HR.
The Time and Energy Black Hole
Poor managers and their employees are in your office because the work situation is not going well. Managers are complaining about their employees and vice versa. Unresolved conflicts, negative personalities, unclear roles, and a lack of accountability create a negative and sometimes toxic formula.
Combine all of those issues with a manager who doesn’t communicate effectively, and you have the potential for legal issues. Resolving those situations or completing investigations can require enormous time investments and energy from HR. It may even suck in your leadership team. Yikes!
The Replacement Hamster Wheel
Poor managers make bad hiring decisions from start to finish:
They aren’t clear on the position they are trying to fill and what they expect the position to deliver.
They are often short-staffed and may even be covering the vacant position themselves. So, they don’t invest the time it takes to make a good hire.
They base their decision on first impressions and who they ‘like.’
They don’t take the time to understand if the person’s previous performance predicts success in the needed role.
They don’t onboard well. They use the ‘sink or swim’ approach and often the employee sinks.
Thus, HR is faced with helping the manager fill the position, AGAIN!
The points above are only some of the significant impacts to HR. It doesn’t begin to define the overall impact on the business, which is really the bigger story.
Insist on excellent managers and leaders. How do you do this? It’s a simple formula really:
Hire good managers or managers who have the talent and desire to be excellent leaders for their employees and teams.
Help them develop their leadership skills.
Support them in their ongoing quests to be excellent leaders and managers.
You’ve seen the scary stats – 60% of managers fail or underperform in their first two years. How can this happen when you promote your best employees into management positions?
First of all, managers often have challenging employees, a heavy workload without enough resources and tough goals. One of the first things managers tell us is that they have too much work and that they feel stressed because of all the above.
Second, being a manager is hard because there are a lot of dots to connect to get others to do their best work for the organization. Unfortunately, they may not have a great role model or even training to know what to do.
This is where you need to help them connect the dots. Do this and they’ll become more effective managers!
What dots do they need to connect? We’ll use a fictional manager named Liza to connect the dots as follows:
Employee engagement is critical to Liza’s success as a manager. She needs to understand the importance of trust and other key drivers of employee engagement. (By the way, engaged employees deliver better business results.)
Everyone works differently. Liza needs to understand her own personality and work preferences along with those of her employees. She can use that information in her one-on-one meetings with employees to develop trust and foster positive relationships.
Liza needs to ensure clear alignment with her employees on their responsibilities and expected results. To ensure clarity, goals should be SMART.
Liza must assess each employee’s commitment and capability to be successful within their responsibilities. Based on that assessment, Liza should provide the right support to avoid micromanaging or under-managing employees.
It’s important for employees to know and trust their teammates. They also need to understand how their successes contribute to the success of the organization. Liza should take steps to promote team trust and ensure that every employee has line of sight from their goals all the way up to the organization’s goals.
Liza should measure results against SMART goals at both the team and employee level on a regular basis. Employees need to know how they are doing. Liza should provide frequent feedback that’s heavily weighted toward positive feedback. An informed employee is more likely to deliver great results.
There are a lot of dots to connect. If Liza succeeds, she’ll be wildly successful.
What do you hope to achieve when you send managers to ‘management’ training?
Most people would agree that you want your managers to apply what they have learned and become better managers. However, we know that most participants of traditional training programs retain roughly 10% of what they have learned just weeks after the program ends, let alone apply it in their work.
In launching the Successful Manager’s Roadmap Development Program in April, our goal was not just retention of information, but actual on-the-job application of the training. We had a diverse group of twelve managers with varied levels of experience from three companies.
Our Program is unique in that we portion out the learning into three all-day sessions over three months, provide coaching between the sessions, and require participants to do homework. It is also unique in that it’s holistic; managers get a comprehensive approach to engaging employees and building a strong productive team. We conduct the program in small group sessions so that participants fully participate in the discussions and exercises.
We’re still collecting feedback on the Successful Manager’s Roadmap Program, but the results to date have been excellent. Here are some key outcomes and findings:
· All twelve managers replied “Yes” when asked if they would recommend the program to someone who was considering it.
· When asked why they would recommend the program, common themes that emerged were the tools they acquired, the required homework, space for growth and learning, and the high level of interaction.
· On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being ‘Strongly Agree’), our participants’ collective score was 4.92 on the question, “I will use the information I learned in my job as a manager.”
· On the same scale, participants’ collective score was 4.75 on the question, “I plan to implement what I learned today with my team.”
· The success of the April program was also due to the high quality of managers who participated. They all wanted to be there and to grow their management and leadership skills.
In addition to the quantitative and qualitative feedback, we have the anecdotal stories of managers talking about their individual wins with their employees and team. In fact, we know participants have already applied what they learned on the job.
Many have relayed they are much more effective in forming positive relationships with their employees and even with their own managers. After learning how to communicate expected results via SMARTer goals, one manager reported that she is seeing better results from her team. Several others have reported that, through their participation in the program, they are now able to approach their management role with a greater level of confidence.
The future of the group
All twelve managers want to stay connected with the group and continue their growth through our Roadmap Alumni Program. That program will kick off in September.
The results above are just a few of the key findings from our April program launch. We know the Successful Manager’s Roadmap Development Program directly impacted the performance of these twelve managers. To understand whether the results will be sustained, we will collect additional feedback three, six, nine, and twelve months after completion of the program. In next month’s blog, we’ll share more stories of success from our managers.
Earlier this month we introduced you to Step 3 of the Successful Manager’s Roadmap to build your high performing team. Did you try any of those suggestions? If you did – fantastic! That’s a huge step. Now you can focus on the second half of Step 3; building commitment and accountability to the business.
What drives commitment and accountability on your team?
As I’ve written before, employees have certain emotional needs at work. If you can help fulfill them, your employees will be more committed to the business and their work – which means success for you. Here are several key needs that employees have:
Need for information about what’s going on. They want to be informed.
They want to feel like they’re contributing to something bigger; a higher cause.
They want to have some control over their work and how they do it.
If you can meet these fundamental needs, you’ll build commitment and accountability.
5 Easy Ways to Fulfill Employee Needs and Boost Commitment and Accountability
Share as much relevant information and news about your company as soon as possible with your employees. Much of it they’ll read about on-line or get on social media. The benefit of providing the information first is that you can provide context that social media or internet posts can’t. Plus, they feel like they’re in the know before the public is.
Every team has customers. This is true even if the customer is internal. Get your employees out to visit customers. This yields several benefits: your team will have a better understanding of customers and their needs and issues, and it helps create a higher purpose for them. Going forward, they’ll hopefully link their work with meeting your customers’ needs.
Starting at the highest level in your company, cascade your company’s mission, vision, values, goals, strategies, etc. down to your team. Then, involve the team in developing the team’s mission, vision, values, goals and strategies. Your employees are more likely to embrace them if they’ve had a say in developing them. And you’ll get the benefit of their collective wisdom.
On an individual level, give your employees the power to create their own goals in the context of the team’s goals. You’ll need to review them to ensure they’re SMART and will drive team success, but your employees will feel more ownership if they develop their own goals.
Have your employees share their goals with the entire team. This will not only facilitate the coordination of work within your team, but will also make the employee feel accountable not only to you for delivering results, but also to the team and the business.
Each of these suggestions can make a minor difference. But, if you implement all five, your team’s commitment and accountability to the business will go way up. And so will your team’s results.
Today’s post is the third in our series to introduce you to our 5 step model to build your high performing team. You can read Step 1 here and Step 2 here.
You may be asking, what is the next level for your work or business? The next level – and the third step in our model – is gaining commitment and accountability from your employees to both your team and the business.
What do you get in return for this commitment? Your employees will want to all succeed as a team. They want to win!
Working seamlessly together, people will build off the work of their peers to generate better solutions and results for themselves and for the team. And, they’ll do it quicker. You’ll get 30% more or even double the results of ‘low commitment/low accountability’ teams. And, your work and personal life will be so much easier than those ‘other’ managers.
How Do You Get Full Commitment and Accountability?
First, you should have completed Step 1 and Step 2 in our 5 step process to building your high performance team. As a result, you’ve fully embrace your role as the conductor of your team. You’ve got the right people on your team. They know what’s expected of them, and they know they have your support to be successful in their roles. Up until now, you and each of your employees have been the main focus. Now, your focus shifts to the team as a whole.
High Trust Leads to High Commitment
Trust is just as critical in Step 3 as it is in Steps 1 and 2. When your employees trust and respect each other, they’ll commit to the team and be more accountable for their behavior – including following through on their work without you micro-managing.
You Can Accelerate Trust
Trust develops over time on a team, but you don’t have to rely solely on time. You can accelerate the trust-building process. People trust other people when they get to know them as individuals and when they know they, themselves, will be treated with trust and respect. So, help them get to know each other and to know what behavior to expect within the team.
I have seen trust grow when people simply find out more about their teammates’ backgrounds. Here are some questions you could discuss in a team session to accelerate trust building:
Where did you grow up?
How many kids were in your family?
Where were you in the birth order?
What was your favorite hobby or thing to do growing up?
Who had the biggest influence on you growing up?
These may seem too personal and some may not feel comfortable at first with the idea. But most people love to talk about themselves. And the benefits are many.
Your team gets to know each other a bit more and often they’ll find they’ve had common experiences. They’ll also get information that will make it easier to have follow-up conversations and connect with their peers going forward. When people leave these discussions, I invariably witness informal continued discussions about something they heard someone else share. Sports teams, favorite restaurants, hobbies and other topics pop up that people can now discuss.
Share Styles and Work Preferences
A second exercise that can be invaluable is to have your employees share information about their personal styles and what works well, and not well, for them in their work. Communication is a great area to focus on and the use of a tool such as DiSC or MBTI can help facilitate the process.
These tools give people the words and a structure in which to share personal styles and work preferences with each other. For example, with the DiSC profile, someone who tends to have the ‘C’ or conscientiousness style can describe to the group how he or she likes work to be organized and logical and how he or she prefers to think through a question or problem before they talk about it. He or she can then talk about how to best work with them based on this style. Suddenly, others in the team who had issues with a team member who was ‘too quiet’ or ‘not approachable’ have new insight into their work style. They now know how to more effectively work with them.
Accountability Through Team Norms
People will work better together when they know what behavior is expected and what behavior is discouraged within their team. A third exercise to further build commitment and, especially, accountability to the team is to have the team develop team norms on how they want to work together.
A team norm might be something like ‘assume good intention’. This should be done after one or both of the above exercises have been completed so that employees are more comfortable with each other. If you have a new team or a team that has had inter-personal challenges, this can be extremely valuable.
Be clear up front with how the norms will be used. For example, I would encourage you to let the team know the rules will be visible. They’ll be posted. You’ll periodically review them. Second, you need to let them know you will follow up with anyone who seems to violate the team norms.
Work with the group to get the list down to 5-7 norms. I’d recommend you have the team then discuss behaviors that fall within the norms and behaviors that fall outside them. This will help everyone get on the same page. Once completed, send the rules out to the entire team. How you develop the team norms is key. They are the ‘team’s’ norms so have the team develop them. They will be much more like to buy in and be accountable for their own behavior if they’ve had a say in developing these norms.
That was the easy part. Now comes the more challenging part, which is actually living and enforcing the rules. The rules apply to the whole team, including you.
If you complete this work, the level of trust on your team will go up. Your employees will trust each other and they’ll be committed to the success of the team. You’ll be set up for the second part of Step 3, which is building commitment and accountability to the business. Stay tuned, we’ll discuss this in our next post.