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Saturday, February 23, 2019

5 Ways To Improve Employee Engagement

In the old days, it was called "Employee Morale".  These days, the term of choice is "Employee Engagement".  Regardless of the words used, the underlying thought is this:  Employees who feel valued by their employer do better work for their customers.  Period.

I don't think anyone would argue with the above statement, but yet why is this such an issue for many employers?  Well, that's a separate posting for another day.  For now, I'm going to instead focus on a few ideas to actually improve employee engagement.

Become Fanatical About Clarity
People perform better when they know what they are doing and why they are doing it.  Why then is clarity such a challenge?  I think part of the answer lies in the old notion of "crap rolls downhill":  Your manager's boss doesn't provide him/her with clarity, so your manager returns the favor to their direct reports.

A Solution:  Everyone in the organization should become a fanatic about clarity.  If you're not sure what you're doing and why you're doing it, then become a pain the rear-end and demand it.  Social media tools like Yammer should be explored as a vehicle for employees to dialogue about the "whats" and "whys" of their jobs.  Employees who challenge the notion of "well, we do it that way just because" should be rewarded.  Every employee should be able to tell the story of what the organization does and why that thing is important.

Be Transparent
I'm in favor of a simple rule at work:  Assume information can be shared unless it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it shouldn't.  Sharing, by the way, doesn't mean "send an email" either.  Granted that some things shouldn't be widely shared, such as certain aspects of compensation*, information that might compromise a sales prospect, and certain kinds of intellectual property.  Otherwise, I am for the outlandish idea that we shouldn't treat adults like children who "don't deserve to know" for the simple justification of "because".  The underly reason really isn't "because", by the's actually "we don't trust our employees".  To that end, why would an employer hire people they can't trust?

(*) Let's stop pretending that employees never talk about how much they are paid.  They do.  Given that reality, while I don't favor listing individual employee compensation for all the world to see, I do believe that salary ranges by level/grade should be available for every employee's reference.  All of them, from mailroom clerk to C.E.O.

Coach Leaders on Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is, in my estimation, a game-changer for leadership at all levels, from front line supervisor up to C.E.O.  Awareness of one's own feelings, exercising management over one's actions, recognizing emotions in others and building relationships are all key skills that every leader should work towards.  "Work towards" is a key phrase, as EI is less of a goal and more of an area of practice, making it an ideal element of any leader's development plan.

Ask (and be Transparent)
Engagement surveys, where an employer asks employees for opinions about their work/employment experience and environment, are a great idea that can yield tremendous actionable data for leaders.  There's a big "however" here, namely that the results have to be shared.  Simply letting them rot in an HR office, never to be seen or heard of again, will do far more harm than good:  You'll be telling employees that their opinions really didn't matter after all.  I'll add that failing to report engagement survey results is also just cowardly.  Oh, and you'll also create some conspiracy theories worthy of the Weekly World News.

(Source:  This site)

Ditch the Divisive Perks
I honestly think one of the things that kill employee engagement are perks and benefits that pit one group of employees against another.  If you are a senior leader or a highly regarded salesperson, for example, well, you get paid more; that's your reward for the job you do.  Piling on vacations with spouses thinly disguised as conferences, providing preferred parking, adding golf club memberships that allow for more than just closing deals or, one of the worst example I've ever seen...namely giving more senior leaders a far better vacation policy than the rank and file...all scream "you don't matter" at a volume loud enough for even the deaf to hear.  Again, I'm all for paying top dollar for top talent/performance, but I'm against "in your face" perks that effectively create a caste system in the workplace.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Road Apples, #177

Indeed is a drug...Indeed, as in the Indeed job search site.  Once you start receiving the feed in your inbox, well, it indeed becomes something of an addiction.  It makes me wonder if I'll now perpetually be in a job search mode.

I held a baby and put him to sleep...rocking in my arms on Saturday.  As I noted in a somewhat private Facebook posting, there are few things more perfect in all of the world than a sleeping baby.  The experience brought back so many memories when my daughters were infants.  That was, by the way, a long time ago. 

Also in the baby department...I received a text message from my youngest daughter telling me that I am going to be a in she got a new puppy.  He's a lively 5-month old that reminds me of Scrappy-Doo.  As I've said many times before, most dogs are, for the most part, better than most people.

Magnesium kind of tough to spell and I don't even try to pronounce it.  What I can say with some authority is that, as a supplement, it does that rare kind of thing:  It actually works.  I've been taking it since late December and I do find that it both helps me sleep and seems to give me something of a boost in the cognition department.  You can read more about it HERE.

Second posting...I actually hadn't planned on writing this posting, let alone publishing it.  In fact, I worked on a posting over the past few days that is 99% ready to go.  The trouble with it is two-fold though:  1) It's on a serious topic, and I'm too tired to edit a serious posting 2) I'm convinced that it's either really good or incredibly stupid.  One or the other.

A brief conversation with my sister-in-law...over the weekend centered around this idea that, when I was younger, I figured that by the time I was in my 50's, I'd have the career thing figured out.  Things would be stable.  It's been my experience, and sadly the experience of a few others I know, that not everyone gets that gift.  See the first entry in this posting.

Books...Every so often I feel this compulsion to re-organize the many books I own.  Just such a compulsion has been in effect lately, brought on in part by the fact that I've been bringing home some of the books that I had at work (1-year rule applies:  If you don't reference it in a year, well, you don't need it there).  Anyway, I have four shelves organized, inclusive of these...

There's much more to do, but so far I'm happy with the results so far.  I also have two stacks of books to either donate or add to a future yard sale. 

Corporate welfare and the underlying thesis of a terrific article I recently read.  You can find it HERE.  There are times when I actually do think our society is on the brink of an awakening of the likes none of us have ever experienced before. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Your Career: 2 out of 3 Ain't Bad

(from THIS site)

I've become convinced of something lately:  In order to be happy (or at least content) at work, you need two of three things to occur.  What are the three things?

Well before I go any further, I'm going to apply Daniel Pink's axiom about compensation, namely that you are getting paid enough such that compensation isn't a front and center issue for you.  This noted, here are the variables.

1.  Your Job.
This is about loving what you do, or for the most part, enjoying much of what you do for a living.

2.  Your Manager.
This isn't the literal title of manager, but rather it's the person you directly report to in the organization.

3.  Your Employer.
This is the organization you work for...what it does, what it stands for, how impacts the community and the world.  Would you be proud to tell others you worked for this organization?

Again, I think the key here is that you need at least two of the three variables to be positive in order to be happy at work.  A few examples.

You love what you do and you have a very supportive manager.  Your employer?  Maybe not so good, but your manager insulates you from the worst of it all, and besides, the day-in/day-out of what you actually do "puts gas in your tank".

This is probably the toughest "stay" scenario, but hear me out:  You love your job, but your manager is an un-supportive pain in the rear-end.  Your organization is wonderful though, and you take pride in telling others where you work.  In this scenario, you can simply let natural attrition take care of Attila the Boss.

You hate your job but work for a great boss in an organization that suits you well and makes you proud to be a part of the team.  In this case, you decide that a new job in the organization is only a matter of time anyway, as your manager is supportive of your desire for career movement.

Of course, there are other scenarios.

You hate your job and your employer basically makes the world a worse place.  However, your manager tries very hard to motivate and assist you.  In this case, it's only a matter of time before you leave, either on your own or through some other means.

Your enjoyment for the work is the only thing keeping you employed.  At some point, the lack of support from your manager and the shame you feel at working for an organization that routinely treats its employees like test dummies will drive you to leave.

This is the toughest of the "2 out of 3" scenarios.  Why?  Because in part, humans have an inherent need for community.  We like to belong to a tribe.  Working for an admired organization that helps make the world a better place represents a mighty attractive tribe to belong to, even when the other variables paint a more dismal picture.

Lastly, we do have the opposite ends of the spectrum.

It goes without saying, but don't stay.  Instead, be of the opinion that your current employer is effectively paying you to find a new job.  That may be the best thing they can do for you.

You've found your home.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

What I Learned from Watching Over 2 Hours of Old Cigarette Commercials

Watching these commercials was actually fascinating, in a terrible sort of way.  When I was younger, well, smoking just seemed so normal.  The commercials only reinforced that fact.  Maybe that was the point of the commercials in the first place.  It also speaks to the influence mass media marketing has had (and continues to have) in our country.  It's as if we're on a quest, on the cheap mind you, to somehow be glamorous, cool, and popular, listening to anyone who can seemingly show us the way.  

In retrospect, it's as if an entire country was caught up in a collective cognitive dissonance, somehow believing that they could inhale burning vegetable matter without any consequences.  It actually goes beyond that when some of the commercials proclaim the number of doctors that use their particular product.  Now it seems naive and stupid, but that conveniently ignores the fact that, in spite of falling numbers...

...we still have a significant number of folks in this country who do smoke.  Just stop into just about local convenience store to get a practical demonstration of this fact. 

Again, I do find the commercials fascinating, but maybe it's the same kind of fascination that sometimes comes with roadkill.  Or a Nickelback video.  In any event, and to be a bit more serious for a moment, I really wish the smoking rate was zero.  None.  Nada.  Zilch.  There are no redeeming qualities associated with smoking, only the very strong possibility of a horrible death.  Granted that we are all going to die one day, but my hope is that it doesn't have to be from literally drowning in your own bodily fluids.

"Hugely difficult thing to post about my mum died 9 weeks ago from lung cancer/copd don’t really know she went in with chest infection was sent home with oxygen and antibiotics found unconscious the next day and never regained proper consciousness but there were moments of clarity, I spent the next three days with her in hospital and she died she basically drowned in her own fluid in front of me and I could do nothing I am obviously very sad but also having horrible flashbacks I don’t know how to move forward..." 
[Citation HERE]

If you are reading this and you smoke, well, please try to quit.  If that doesn't work then try again.  And again.  And again until you are successful.  Life is too short, it's too fragile to throw it away on a broken Madison Avenue promise of glamour and cool.