Emenex Weekly News

Each week we bring you news, opinions and research on Employee Engagement, Leadership and Motivation, along with some thoughts on practical workplace applications.

65% Of Employees Want More Feedback (So Why Don’t They Get It?)

As feedback is a core element of management communication, and communication is a core element of successful management, the question naturally becomes: Why do 65% of employees feel shortchanged in this regard?  Why is something so fundamental so often lacking?

Victor Lipman, writing here for Forbes, give us what he believes are three main reasons – two of which are real and one of which, he claims, is dubious (but commonly used as an excuse!).  He expands upon all three:

  • There’s not enough time for it
  • Giving meaningful candid feedback can be stressful and unpleasant
  • Weaknesses in our management selection and training processes

[Lipman has some pretty forthright views on his third point with which many employees might agree – Ed.]

Blog: When Employee Voice Goes Wrong

IBM Kenexa’s Employee Voice survey platform provides a powerful and far reaching set of tools that enables companies to gain a deep understanding of what their employees really think on a range of issues, forming the basis for ongoing growth and development.

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It’s no accident that IBM chose the name Employee Voice for the platform – it’s one of the four enablers of employee engagement identified by Engage for Success. But why is Employee Voice so vital? Why does it matter so much that employees are not only listened to, but truly heard?

Researchers[1] used the term ‘pseudo voice’ to describe what happens all too frequently in organisations: managers ask their employees for the opinions and feedback, but completely ignore it.  The researchers make some important points and share some surprising findings. Read more.

It’s time to move beyond engagement.  Empower and align employees with organisational priorities to build a culture of high performance, well being and career satisfaction.  To learn more, call 03450 523 593

Something to Believe In (The not-so-dark art of employee engagement)

Sam Hollis, writing for Personnel Today, sets out to clarify the difference between employee engagement, satisfaction and workplace culture; they may overlap, says Hollis, but they’re not the same. [And we agree. Read the full article for all the details behind this brief summary – Ed.]

Workplace culture guides discretionary behaviour, says Hollis, but it’s not the same thing as employee engagement.

Similarly, employee satisfaction is a separate thing. “It’s indicative of how provisioned people are to do their job… But like a strong culture, keeping employees satisfied isn’t the same as winning their hearts and minds,” says Hollis.

So what is engagement and how is it different?

“Fundamentally” says Hollis, “engagement comes from employees understanding what their organisation stands for and is trying to achieve; believing and supporting it, knowing how they can contribute, and seeing its impact.”

Hollis gives examples of a police officer, firefighter, nurse, teacher, or soldier. These professions are underpaid, difficult, shrouded with bureaucracy and politics and often dangerous, yet many of the people in these professions are disproportionately engaged with their professions because they are bound by shared values.

Hollis points out that employees are now expecting their organisations to be doing something of value that connects them with society as a whole.

So, the first step to engaging your workforce? Give them something to believe in.

Ways to Make Your One-on-Ones with Employees More Productive

[We really liked this article as we fully subscribe to one-on-ones being the most important aspect of effective management of team members. Taking the time to listen to your employees is greatly empowering to each individual.  It gives them a sense of importance that cannot be given by any other means. Don’t underestimate the value to you in the short, medium and long term. Over the course of the last 8 years our team has managed a group of 9 direct reports – having 1-1s every month during that period. The feedback and impact were very positive. If you’re not already running one-on-one meetings now is a good time to start – Ed.]

This article from Harvard Business Review expands upon these nice tips on how to get the most out of these meetings:

  • Block regular time in your schedules. The frequency with which you have one-on-ones will vary depending on how high-maintenance or experienced your employees are, but it is important that you schedule them on your calendar. Experiment with frequency until you find the right rhythm.
  • Prepare discussion points. Jot down a list of bullet points that you’d like to discuss. Ask your direct report to do the same. Once you’re face-to-face, compare lists and make sure you have time to cover the most pressing points.
  • Be fully present. Don’t think of the meeting as just another item on your to-do list; instead, consider it a “precious moment of connection. Think, ‘I’m here to make a difference in the life of this person.’” Devote your full attention to your employee. Turn off your phone, and mute your computer.
  • Start positive. Begin the meeting “by sharing a win.” It’s a great way to start a one-on-one because it creates positive energy.
  • Problem solve. It’s important that you “strike a balance” between asking questions and listening to what your colleague has to say. Ask employees to build a list of the challenges they’re facing along with potential solutions in advance of the meetings, then you, as the manager, can offer constructive feedback.
  • Ask questions about career plans. Although you should prioritize pressing issues and those of strategic importance, don’t neglect the personal. One-on-ones can be a good opportunity to help your team members be more thoughtful about their careers and lives.
  • Express gratitude. Close the meeting as you began it — with positivity. Just “slow down and say ‘Thank you.'”

How Fragmentation is Killing Employee Engagement

Fragmentation of roles leads to employees’ lack of ownership and a quiet acceptance of things-as-they-are, claim Alexander Van Caeneghem and Jean-Marie Bequevort of consultancy TriFinance in Belgium. Many business leaders are forced to play managerial Tetris, they say, performing trade-offs between strategy, structure, processes, people and systems. “Success is defined by the ability to puzzle together conflicting needs and survive the complexity associated with a central feature of modern organisations: fragmentation.”

They consider three cases that illustrate how fragmentation prevents people from giving their best – read the article to get the stories behind these headlines.

Case #1: That’s Not My Job
Case #2: Battle of the Forms
Case #3: Strictly VP knowledge

A Crisis of Engagement
The authors highlight that the real problem was that people did not seem to care very much; it is not only caused by lack of knowledge, but also by lack of control. Recently the organisation of work has evolved through a growing functionalisation of leadership structure, they say. Organisational structure is pivotal.

Also, say Van Caeneghem and Bequevort, engagement is negatively correlated with control. But there’s good news: engagement can be boosted on an individual and organisational level. They offer three specific tips.

Tell a Better Story
Companies work with people — and people want stories. First, define why you are doing what you are doing; second, define your requirements towards marketing and communication (do not leave it up to them to tell the story); third, install a culture of transparency and meaning.

Find Your Divine Proportions
Every company has a divine proportion, suggest the authors, an optimal form of organisation with management layers and spans of control. The organisational structure needs to fit the company’s strategy and purpose — flattening is not by definition a panacea. To find the ‘divine proportions’ first ask, what is the purpose of your company? Second, which dimensions need to define the organisation of your company? Third, how can you promote leadership and accountability over control, and motivation over coercion? The approach works even better bottom-up: just replace “company” with “team.”

Implement Zero-Based Fragmentation
Each new task needs to be challenged with three very simple questions: Does it add meaning to the work of the employee? Does it increase the sense of ownership for the employee? Does it reduce the complexity of the process, the team, and the organisation?

The authors conclude, “Your organisation comprises people; motivation is the most powerful driver, and knowledge and control breed engagement. The time has come to put people first. Start at the bottom, share your success, and the rest will follow.”

Take Charge of your career, team or organisation by aligning individual goals with organisational priorities. To learn more, call 03450 523 593

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