Each week we aim to deliver the most useful information, inspiration, and insight about Employee Engagement and Motivation, Leadership and Followership, Strategy and Culture, all summarised into bite-size chunks.  Here are this week’s must reads;

How To Create a Toxic Workplace – 12th August

Sometimes we need to look at what we don’t want to understand what we do want. To have a great workplace environment, it’s critical to know what you need to remove that is creating barriers to doing great work.

Toxic workplaces are obviously viewable; here are the signs to look for. The list excludes some of the more obvious examples of toxic work environments: yelling, public tantrums, passive-aggressive behaviours, or controlling behaviours.

  • Turn the cheek to disruptive behaviour.
  • Avoid removing barriers to progress.
  • Avoid addressing siloed-thinking.
  • Don’t coach or show appreciation.
  • Allow leaders to be self-serving.
  • Communicate on a need-to-know basis.
  • Don’t prioritize workload.
  • Assume employees can’t be trusted.
  • Assume employees won’t do the right thing.
  • Believe your intentions are known.
  • Believe employees’ personal lives don’t affect their professional lives.
  • Let Drama Triangles undermine interactions and communication patterns.
  • Avoid addressing high stress levels.

Believers in the human-side of business seek out causes of toxic behaviours and take swift action to eradicate them. This may mean removing a person or multiple people.

We all want to do great work. Toxic work environments undermine this basic human desire.

Six Things That Every Employee Should Know about Running a Business – 11th August

Paul Terry shares his perspective on what leaders want employees to know about running a business and also makes some suggestions for navigating your career based on these themes.

  1. It’s all about the numbers. The language of business is money, and it can be measured many ways: revenues, profits, productivity, quality, waste, inefficiencies, time to market for new products, etc. Career Suggestions: Learn what drives your company’s “bottom line”. Be inquisitive.Ask yourself if there is a better way to do your job, and what value your job adds. Make sure your personal value to the business is increasing faster than your costs.
  2. Yes, the people matter too. The numbers don’t happen by themselves—it takes talented people to run the business and deliver the business products and services. Career Suggestions: As a team member you have to be sure you’re contributing your full share. You should be rewarded for your contribution (not always in $). Be the type of contributor you’d love to work with.
  3. Tough decisions are necessary. A business cannot be all things to all people. Not every decision made by the organization’s leadership will feel good to you personally. Career Suggestions: Keep your internal and external networks alive and active—sometimes you can find out before decisions are formally announced on how they may affect you. Ensure that you have expertise in and are working on things that matter most to the business.
  4. Every business decision involves some element of risk. Senior executives are paid to make (and accept responsibility for) decisions. Not every decision will work out as planned. Career Suggestions: Individual tolerance for risk varies. Some people love taking risks and others are more risk adverse. Ask yourself – what level of risk can you tolerate?
  5. Business leaders often have to act more confident than they may actually feel. A big part of leadership is exhibiting confidence in setting a direction and convincing investors, employees, and customers that you know what you’re doing even if you have internal doubts. Career Suggestions: Learn how to increase your confidence and your ability to project it.
  6. Customer loyalty doesn’t just happen. I know this sounds a bit cliché. But, customers cannot be taken for granted. Loyalty has to be earned day in and day out and can be negatively (or positively) affected in a heartbeat. Career Suggestions: Consider the following questions: What is the “line of sight” between your work and the end customer? Why do your customers choose your product or service over someone else’s?

The more you learn to think and act like a senior business leader, the greater the chances are that you will be seen as a highly valued contributor and have doors open to many career options—maybe even running your own business.

The Five Biggest Misconceptions About Trust – 10th August

Charles Green describes trust in a way that is clear, commonsensical, and allows for sensible business discussions about things like processes and economics.

He defines trust as “…an asymmetrical bilateral relationship acted out over time (whew).”

It starts with one party taking a risk in deciding to trust, and the other party showing himself to be trustworthy. The author makes an important point about trustworthiness as a moral quality; note morality is a human, not an organisational, concept.

If trustworthiness is mainly personal, and the propensity to trust is entirely so, then what is the role of organizations?  The answer is, to create an environment that encourages personal trustworthiness and intelligent trusting. And you achieve this by creating a culture of trust, where the value might include;

  • A systematic and habitual initial focus on the other, rather than on oneself
  • An instinct for collaboration, rather than competition
  • A relentless focus on the mid-long term, not the short term; on relationships, not transactions
  • A default to transparency in all matters, except where illegal or hurtful.

Creating a culture of trust in an organization is much the same as creating any corporate culture, with one glaring exception: it is extremely critical that leaders model the virtues and values of trust when it comes to trust.

And here are the five misconceptions;

  1. Trust takes time. Mostly not true.  Only trustworthiness-as-reliability takes time to assess. We make instant judgments all the time about others’ trustworthiness, in the sense of evaluating their credibility, their generosity, their intent, and so forth.
  2. You’ve got to earn trust. True only if you consider living your entire life and forming your personality as “earning.” Most trusting is not done based on track records, but on instant assessments of very complex human attributes.
  3. Trust grows slowly but can be lost in an instant. Neither part is true. Trust is frequently granted in an instant – a look, a handshake, a referral. Trust declines are based in quality, not time. A rich and powerful relationship will withstand several shocks before trust is lost; this is the stuff of human loyalty.
  4. Trust is fragile. Yes and no. If you punch me in the face, I don’t stop trusting the human race – but you and I are done for. Generalised trust – our general expectations about strangers – changes glacially and is very robust – it’s far from fragile. But particularised trust – me trusting you with money, or lovers regarding fidelity – can change quickly, and can be fragile indeed.
  5. Organizational and personal trust are the same. Not at all. We don’t think of companies as being particularly trustworthy (or not); and we never think of them as agents who do trusting.

Armed with these few basic concepts about trust, we are in a position to talk clearly about how to increase it, personally and institutionally, how to measure it, and how to manage it.

Employee engagement schemes set for a boost – 8th August

In a piece by HR Review, over half (53%) of UK organisations plan to broaden their employee engagement programmes in order to maximise their investment in talent initiatives, according to Talent Management: Accelerating Business Performance, a global survey by Right Management.

More than 2,200 HR professionals and senior leaders participated in the global survey which saw 48% of overall respondents say they intend to broaden their employee engagement programmes.

Right Management’s report argues that now is a critical time for organisations not just to identify what drives engagement, but to find ways to actively solicit, and take action on employee suggestions.

They make the comment, “Whilst many organisations are finally recognising the value of employee engagement strategies, there’s still a temptation to treat them as a temporary fix. Organisations need to embrace employee engagement as an ongoing mind-set, not a programme that starts and stops when morale is low.”

They go on to conclude, “Our research highlights that businesses are starting to wake up to the fact that employee dissatisfaction has a ripple effect that can disrupt productivity, damage morale and ultimately see talent exit the business. Employee engagement strategies play a vital role in creating a structure for lasting change and stemming the tide of attrition that so many businesses are facing.”

3 Valuable Insights Leaders Can Learn From Neuroscience – 7th August

Jesse Newton and Josh Davis describe the underlying reasons why change agents frequently recommend the following three specific measures in order to achieve change successfully;

  1. Giving more autonomy to frontline workers.
  2. Clearly explaining to staff members the significance and value (the “why”) of everyday work.
  3. Providing public and personal recognition and rewards for employee contributions.

Neuroscience is revealing new insights about cognitive processes and these can be linked to each of the above measures;

Autonomy at the Front Line makes a difference because micromanagement, the opposite of autonomy and the default behaviour for many managers, puts people in a threatened state creating feelings of fear and anxiety which impair their performance. When we experience this “fight-or-flight” reaction our productivity falls and the quality of our decisions is diminished.

The “Why” of Everyday Work makes a difference because it enables people to form a “goal hierarchy”: a mental structure in which priorities can be considered as complements rather than obstacles to one another. This makes it more likely that people will follow through. Making the “why” clear helps companies deploy the cognitive power of altruism. When it’s clear to employees that they’re helping others through their work, their intrinsic motivation rapidly expands. Management by aspiration is faro more powerful than management by objectives.

Personalised Recognition and Rewards make a difference because they release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which produces good feelings. These reward circuits encourage people to repeatedly behave the same way. Making the rewards public helps to increase social status, enhance the sense of being a valued member of the group and shows that hard work will be fairly recognised.

Half of UK firms plan increased investment in employee engagement – 7th August

Both the Hay Group and Right Management have released survey findings in the last week reports workplace Savings and Benefits, but with differing results.  Right Management’s survey of 2,200 HR professional and Senior Leaders found that 48% planned to broaden their employee engagement programmes.  The Hay Group’s study of Heads of Engagement in FTSE 250 and Fortune 500 companies found that 67% had not changed the way they operated.

Ian Symes, General Manager of Right Management UK and Ireland, points to the issue of engagement programmes being a temporary fix.

This does fit with The Hay Groups research, which found that while 84% or their respondents thought companies must change the way they engage with their employees, less than one third thought that their organisation could successfully adapt.

3 Tips for Getting Employees Excited About an Employee Engagement Survey – 6th August

Surveys can be an important tool in building employee engagement, however to get high participation and open, honest feedback, surveys need good administration.  In this article, Avatar Solutions set out 3 good practice tips for gaining employee buy-in to your survey.  This will ensure the data collected provides accurate results.

  • Be an open book. Share your thinking behind the survey and the steps in the process.  Be open about issues such as confidentiality and how the data will be used.
  • Involve employees  Asking for volunteers to promote the survey or getting involvement from employees in the planning process will raise interest and enthusiasm.  employees will want to see the results of something they feel a part of.
  • Consider and Incentive  offering incentives for survey completion can increase participation.

The article offers a case study on how one organisation boosted participation rates. This requires registration to access.

Making the Case for Employee Engagement – 6th August

Research by the Temkin Group on the impact of engaged employees mirrors that of similar studies, finding that engaged employees are;

  • More than 2.5 times as likely to stay at work later if something needs to be done.
  • More than three times as likely to do something that is good for the company even if it’s not expected of them.
  • Almost three times as likely to make a recommendation about an improvement at their company.
  • Almost five times as likely to recommend that a friend work at the company.

Another interesting aspect to this research is the identification traits that engaging elders shared, but less engaging leaders did not.  Engaging leaders were more likely to have above average financial results compared to their less engaging counterparts.  The article identifies five competencies that they call the Five I’s:

  • Inform: Provide employees with the information they need to understand the organisation’s vision and brand values, along with evidence of how customers feel about the organisation.
  • Inspire: Connect employees to the organisation’s vision and values, instilling within them a belief that these matter and encouraging them to take pride in their job and their organisation.
  • Instruct: Support employees with the training, coaching, and feedback they need to successfully deliver the organisation’s brand promises to customers.
  • Involve: Take action with employees when designing their jobs, improving work processes, and solving the problems identified through customer or employee feedback.
  • Incent: Deploy appropriate systems to measure, reward, and reinforce desired employee behaviours and motivate employees to give their best.

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About Emenex

We help you keep your great people great.

Emenex enables organisations to get the best from and for their staff.

Leaders approach us when they have challenges associated with motivation, productivity, retention, talent management and succession planning. They know that addressing these critical issues can deliver higher levels of profit, productivity and customer satisfaction. They also know that a more progressive solution is required – one that enhances their brand with customers and staff alike.

The solution our clients are choosing to implement is the extraMILETM approach to engagement and development. The extraMILETM delivers all the tools and skills leaders need to clearly define and communicate organisational priorities to employees. For employees, it ensures they are prepared and able to align their personal and career goals to the priorities of the organisation.

The continued growth and development of both teams and individuals builds loyalty, commitment and engagement. It builds an organisation better able to meet future challenges and leads to higher performance and customer satisfaction.

The result?

Individuals and their organisation excel.

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