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4% Unemployment Makes Employee Engagement CRUCIAL

I believe we have the capability to innovate our way out of anything. The problem is, we generally don’t act until there is a crisis. When unemployment was in double figures, there was no compelling reason to pay attention to the importance of engaging employees. After all, where were they going to go? It was tough “out there” and they were unlikely to walk out the door.

Even if you’re a kind soul who truly cares about your team, there’s still a good chance you have not been giving enough attention to engaging your employees. You’re busy; you have a lot to do.

Consider this your wake-up call. Your employees now have many options, especially your top performers. Unemployment is at 4%. Take your team for granted at your peril. There IS a crisis; time to innovate.

At a time of year when most organizations are looking at budgets, an equally important task is to look just as closely at your employee engagement. There are numerous ways to measure it: use of employee benefits, mistakes made, customer accolades versus complaints, productivity, etc. My guess, however, is that you already know whether your employees are engaged. You can tell by the energy (or lack thereof) at your work place.

If there is one thing you can do this year to ensure growth and/or increased productivity, it is to focus on ways to engage your team more fully. Unfortunately, this is often not even on most leaders’ radar. It’s too easy to decide that it’s hopeless– people will be people – I can’t do anything about whether or not they are engaged.

How do you know? Have you even tried?

First of all, you get more of what you focus on. The moment you shift your focus from, “What’s the use?” to “Let’s see what we can make happen,” you will begin to see an uptick in engagement. Add to that some simple approaches:

  • Before going straight to your work area at the beginning of your day, make an effort to greet everyone on your team. If they respond with a puzzled look and ask, “Who are you again?” you know it’s a bigger problem than you feared.
  • “Catch” people doing something right.
  • Say “thank you” and be specific about what you’re thanking them for.
  • Write them up for doing something well versus writing them up for mistakes.

These are just a few ways to engage your employees, there are many more. Those listed above don’t take a lot of time; they do take focus.

Why not try them out? Be innovative! What have you got to lose?

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”    – Herbert Spencer

Or, as the old TV slogan encouraged us, “Try it; you’ll LIKE it!”

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Oxymoron? Fun & Productivity

Whether it is Disney characters singing, “Whistle while you work,” or the Nebraska volleyball team featured in the October 9th Wall Street Journal article, A Team That Digs Deeper to Have Fun, the idea of applying fun to make hard work easier (and more successful) intrigues us all—unless you practice, or are in a culture of, fear-driven leadership.

PLEASE don’t miss the point by being put off by the word “fun.” If it’s more appropriate, use the phrase ”enjoying yourself while working.” The point is that, when people are enjoying themselves, they are not stressed and are more productive.

Remember that The Law of Attraction dictates that you get more of what you focus on. When your team members are focused on what stresses them then they will attract even more of what stresses them – like being behind schedule. When they are focused on enjoying their work, they will attract more of what is enjoyable – like being ahead of schedule.

I once had an attendee at one of my programs report, “When we’re laughing at work, we get into trouble. Our boss thinks we’re goofing off.” That made me sad, especially since not only was she and her co-workers negatively impacted by this, so was that fear-driven boss. He was missing opportunities for his team to increase productivity and lower stress.

More than ever, it’s important to pay attention to the impact of high stress/no fun on productivity WHY?

  • It’s costing you BIG bucks – low productivity is a huge crisis for U.S. businesses. When productivity is down, money is flying out the windows. Think about what even a 1% increase in productivity might mean to your bottom line.
  • Your top talent can walk – The unemployment rate is way down in the U.S. That means workers have options and don’t have to stay at a job that’s high stress/no fun. If they’re talented, they are being sought out by your competition. Heck, even if they’re middle-of-the road they’re likely getting calls. Hiring and training their replacements costs you dearly.
  • The mediocre workers will stay – The workers who stay are usually less talented. Their stress certainly makes them less productive when they are present and probably causes them to be absent a fair amount. Take a look at how much sick leave is being used. And what is health insurance costing your company?
  • It’s causing YOU stress – when your team is stressed, so are you. When they are behind schedule, your boss is not happy. It becomes a negative vortex that can pull you under.

It’s so simple to allow people to enjoy their work. It requires leadership that is fun-driven as opposed to fear-driven. Asking yourself every day, “How can we make this more fun?” will pay off in ways you cannot fathom. Try it for a week. Just one week. And watch what happens.

By the way, that Nebraska volleyball team I mentioned earlier?  Their motto is:  Laugh Together, Win Together! In December 2017 they won their FIFTH NCAA title.

To schedule a FREE 20-minute phone call about how you can make your work environment more fun, email Silver@SilverSpeaks.com

 

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We all Crave Dialogue-Here’s How to Achieve It

This election is over. Throughout the trials and tribulations we continually heard, “Why can’t we talk to each other rather than at each other?

We all crave dialogue. We resist monologue. Let me rephrase that – we resist the monologues of others but love the sound of our own voices.

It’s easier to see the lack of dialogue in the extreme rhetoric of what’s happening politically. It’s more difficult to see that we all engage in some version of this in our own lives.

Because my work is focused on Employee Engagement, I see it most clearly in the work environment. It doesn’t matter whether it’s leaders or front-line workers, we are making more declarative statements than we are asking questions.

The formula for dialogue is simple:

Questions = dialogue
Statements = monologue

In workplace situations, there are great questions to ask that can stimulate some eye-opening dialogue:

  • At staff meetings:  What would you like to accomplish this week, team?”
  • Walk me through this. Why do you think this is the best approach to take?
  • How can we make this work better?

These questions have something in common: they can’t be answered “yes” or “no” and so open up a dialogue.

A monologue can feel like an assault. A dialogue is an invitation to participate.

If you’re bone-tired of the divisiveness we’re being subjected to, why not take on the task of improving your corner of the world?  Encourage dialogue at work.  Heck! Why not try it at home, as well?

Like the old joke goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time.”

How do you get people to talk with each other? One question at a time.

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Humility & Leadership – Oxymorons?

“Humility is even more pleasing in people in whom arrogance would be understandable.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Two interesting pieces of information came across my computer screen today:

  1. Happiness at work may hinge on how you see your boss. At first I thought, “Well, d-uh!” but then I read the article more closely. According to a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, employees who think of their supervisors as partners report significantly higher levels of happiness than those who think of their managers as bosses.
  2. Humility, as a desirable trait, is making a comeback! Some companies are even using it as part of their criteria for hiring, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Additionally, three recent studies revealed that leaders who are considered humble “inspire close teamwork, rapid learning, and high performance in their teams.” Employees who display this trait have been found to be less likely to be absent from work, or quit. Unfortunately, they are also less likely to call attention to themselves, which means that their positive qualities might go unnoticed.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, humility is defined as follows: freedom from pride or arrogance.

 It would be difficult to view an arrogant boss as a partner. We’re more likely to view him/her as someone to fear, or steer clear of. Neither encourages happiness or teamwork.

On the other hand, someone who is free from pride or arrogance is often what we term “approachable” or easy to be around. Each of us carries within us a desire to feel like our boss likes us and is “one of us;” that can only be fulfilled by someone who is humble.

Here are a few clues that your team sees you as someone to fear:

  • You discover most errors; your team does not bring them to your attention
  • Customer service problems are brought to you by customer complaints instead of proactively from your team
  • Workplace energy is low when you’re around
  • Team members avoid eye contact OR make eye contact in a belligerent or rebellious way
  • You can just tell; you can’t put your finger on it but you know you make them uncomfortable.

If you’re interested in improving your likability, the best book I know is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

If you’re not interested, consider this: A study conducted by economic researchers at the University of Warwick discovered happiness resulted in a 12% increase in productivity. On the other hand, unhappy workers were 10% less productive.

Besides, not wanting to improve your likebility is pretty arrogant, don’t you think?

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