Each week we scour the web to find you the most informative, inspirational, and insightful articles about Motivation, Morale, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Followership, Strategy and Culture. Then we edit them into bite-size chunks, to give you the essentials without the fluff. Here are this week’s must reads:

4 Ways to Inspire Employee Engagement and Boost Employee Retention – 22nd July

In this week’s Huffington Post, author Margaret Jacoby suggests 4 strategies to help inspire and engage employees for the long term.

How Software Will Improve Employee Engagement – 21st July

The workplace is changing faster than the systems designed to manage engagement and reward says Forbes.  Emerging mobile software can help bridge the gap by delivering a more personal and immediate experience.

Leaders Can Influence, But Every Employee Owns Their Own Engagement – 21st July

Derek Irvine makes the essential point that is beginning to be lost; “we all as individuals own our own engagement”.

Yes, there are numerous outside influences on our choice to engage, but it is up to us. Companies cannot engage us.

He references a recent article by Gallup which pointed out that;

“Engagement levels tend to fluctuate substantially from team to team and from person to person within the same team … Unless employees assume some measure of responsibility for their own engagement, the efforts of their organizations, leaders, managers and teams may have a limited effect on improving engagement.”

Choosing to engage yourself consists of three simple steps:

  • Define your own engagement.
  • Use your strengths to form positive engagement habits.
  • Be accountable to yourself for your success.

Of course leaders and managers can do quite a great deal to influence that personal and individual choice to engage.

What’s the best thing you can do to increase engagement in your organization? Help your leaders and managers engage first.

It’s a virtuous circle that begins with an individual choice. Make that choice easier for everyone, at every level.

  • Communicate when people are doing well and share that success through social recognition.
  • Enable everyone to notice and appreciate the good happening around them every day.
  • Always remember that no one is an island. We all contribute to the success of our teams, our customers and our company.

How engaged are you? How engaged is your direct manager? How about your senior leader? Do you see a connection?

9 Questions That Lead to Breakthrough Achievement – 21st July

Josh Linkner lists the nine critical questions that the greatest achievers apparently ask themselves to help map their path to success. He says these same questions can provide an effective strategy for achieving just about anything you can imagine:

  • Why am I doing it?
  • What is my big vision?
  • What’s my realistic starting point?
  • Who (or what) is my “enemy”?
  • What resources do I need?
  • Who needs to help me?
  • How will I measure it?
  • How can I break it into manageable tasks?
  • When can I begin? Greatness starts today, not next week, if you have time, or when convenient.

7 Interview Questions That Determine Emotional Intelligence – 21st July

Determining who you hire for a job plays a big part in forming your company’s culture and ensuring its future success. Selecting informative interview questions can be a key factor in finding the right employees — as well as weeding out the ones that won’t fit.
While different companies embody various values and cultures, success in the workplace is strongly influenced by a person’s emotional intelligence.
Here are seven interview questions that can draw revealing answers from the job candidates you interview — and get you on your way to finding employees with stellar emotional intelligence:

  1. Who inspires you and why?
  2. If you were starting a company tomorrow, what would be its top three values?
  3. If business priorities change, describe how you would help your team understand and carry out the shifted goals?
  4. Did you build lasting friendships while working at another job?
  5. What skill or expertise do you feel like you’re still missing?
  6. Can you teach me something, as if I’ve never heard of it before? (It can be anything: A skill, a lesson or a puzzle.)
  7. What are the top three factors you would attribute to your success?

Someone can be the smartest person in the room, but if they are not someone you enjoy working with — because they are more concerned with their own success over that of the company — they won’t be a fit.

7 Things Leaders Do to Help People Change – 20th July

The authors reviewed a dataset of 2,852 direct reports of 559 leaders, assessing the leaders on their effectiveness at leading change – specifically, the managers’ ability to influence others to move in the direction the organization wanted to go. They found that some behaviours were less helpful in changing others. In particular they found two that had little to no impact, thereby providing useful guidance on what NOT to do:

  • Being nice.
  • Giving others incessant requests, suggestions, and advice. This is commonly called nagging.

They then analyzed the behaviours that did correlate with an exceptional ability to drive change. They found eight that really help other people to change. Here they are, in order from most to least important:

  1. Inspiring others.
  2. Noticing problems.
  3. Providing a clear goal.
  4. Challenging standard approaches.
  5. Building trust in your judgment.
  6. Having courage.
  7. Making change a top priority.

Becoming a change enabler will benefit every aspect of your life, both at home and in business. It will even help you to change yourself.

Employee Engagement Starts with the Manager – 17th July

With all the thousands of books and articles published on the subject “employee engagement” over the last decade, you’d think some of it would be having a positive impact by now.

Not so, writes Stephen Lynch in this piece for Linkedin.com

He reminds us that In 2013 Jim Clifton, Chairman of the Gallup Organization, wrote:

“The single biggest decision your company makes every day is who you name manager. This is the conclusion Gallup draws from decades of data and interviews with 25 million employees….but companies keep getting this decision wrong, over and over again.

In fact, the people picked to be managers account for the majority of variance in almost all performance-related outcomes. Yet leaders will spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year on everything but hiring the right managers.”

OK, so in summary, 7 out of 10 of workers are turning up to work, fixing a grin on their face, and putting in the hours, but they are not giving you much more than the bare minimum to keep their jobs.

The person most able to remedy this sad state of affairs is their direct supervisor. They are also the person most likely to mess it up.  How can managers positively influence outcomes?

On who your #1 customer really is.

Who is more important? Customers or employees. This is not a trick question. Here’s some questions to consider before you answer:

  • Who invests the majority of their waking hours building your brand?
  • Who organizes their personal life, sacrificing family and vacation and sometimes their health, in order to deliver your brand promise?
  • Who has to buy your company’s core purpose and their role in delivering it, before a customer can be persuaded to purchase?
  • Before you create customer evangelists, managers need to create employee evangelists.

Lynch has more to say for these topics too:

  • On paying attention…
  • On recognizing people…
  • On discretionary investment…
  • On accountability…
  • On “beingness”…

Who do you need to “be” in order to better engage your team members?

Clever Ways to Engage Employees and Shake Up Company Culture – 17th July

Few things can be as dangerous to a company’s long-term survival as stagnation, writes Curt Finch for smallbiztrends.com. As with any group of people, companies develop cultures, ways of thinking and acting that, for better or worse, can become ingrained “cultural traditions.”

According to a Forbes report:

“New Deloitte research shows that culture, engagement, and employee retention are now the top talent challenges facing business leaders. More than half of business leaders rate this issue ‘urgent’ – up from only around 20 percent last year.”

So what are some ways to engage employees better and shake up a stagnant company culture?

Don’t Be Nostalgic — Look Forward

One of the biggest mistakes owners and managers can make, especially in a startup environment, is being nostalgic about the past. One of the ways to engage employees and help ease the transition from startup to mature company is to take the time to properly explain the reasons and need for change to your employees.

Focus on Non-Monetary Motivations

According to TINYpulse, “We traditionally assume that money is what drives employees to work hard. Our research found that money doesn’t even crack the top five reasons employees go the extra mile! The real motivator is their peers.”

Be Willing to Try Something Radical

Once you’ve opened the lines of communication with your employees, don’t be afraid to make sweeping, even drastic changes to your existing culture.

Without a doubt, company culture is a prime factor in the success or failure of your business. Read the full article here.

5 Tips on How to Give Employees Purpose – 15th July

Here are five interesting suggestions on how to help employees feel a sense of purpose in their work.

  1. Help them see the bigger picture. While people are hired to play specific roles within an organization, they stay because they believe in what the company stands for. When a person is focused on the day-to-day execution of his or her job, however, it can be easy to have tunnel vision and lose sight of the bigger picture.
  2. Encourage them to share what they’re working on with the rest of the company. It’s easy to work with peers for years without understanding what they really do. Yet, it’s motivating to be recognized by colleagues for meeting quotas, goals and objectives. So, whether it’s through lunch-and-learn sessions, new product updates or cross-team training, provide opportunities for employees to talk about what they do.
  3. Let them work without a purpose. Follow Google’s example and make employees work on something outside their strict scope of work for a certain percentage of their time on the clock.
  4. Let them try something new. Like travel, for example. In many companies the same people do most of the traveling and burn out doing so. At the same time, plenty of other people would like to see new cities or interact with clients or colleagues in other places, but never get the opportunity.
  5. Get them involved in interviewing candidates early on in the hiring process. Something special happens when you bring your existing employees into the interview process and have them meet face-to-face with someone considering a job with the company.

6 surprising Insights of Employee Engagement – 14th July

25 years on from when Prof. William Kahn first coined the phrase employee engagement, Fast Company highlights some important insights on implementing engagement, which is one of this years highest priorities for CEOs.

The German Workforce Has a Burnout Problem – 14th July

Many German employees are feeling burned out, and the problem is costly to the European Union’s largest economy, writes Marco Nink for Gallup.

In 2012, the German business publication Manager Magazin reported the number of burnout cases among companies in the DAX.  And in 2013, the former German Labor Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, reported that psychological illnesses caused by workplace stress resulted in 59 million lost days of work in 2011, costing the country’s economy an estimated 6 billion euros.

In response to the growing concern about worker burnout, Gallup conducted a statistical analysis to identify the strongest means of mitigating burnout through employee engagement.

The analysis revealed that three engagement elements are vital to reducing or repairing workplace burnout among workers: receiving regular praise and recognition for good work, having the materials and equipment to deliver quality work, and feeling that their opinions count at work.

Managers Are Crucial to Mitigating Workplace Burnout

What can German companies do to alleviate burnout and foster healthier and more productive workplaces?  See Nink’s full report here, but in summary managers must:

  • Help employees feel that they are contributing to the company and that their contributions are valued.
  • Provide frequent and immediate recognition for good work.
  • Give employees what they need to do their work right
  • Listen to employees and include them in problem-solving
  • Create a trusting environment that encourages open discussion

Leaders must hold managers accountable for giving employees recognition for work well done, providing the materials employees need to do their work right and ensuring that employees’ opinions are heard and respected.

Self-awareness (plus action) Translates to the Bottom-line – 8th July

According to a new study by the Korn-Ferry Institute, “knowing thyself” isn’t just a nice-to-know; self-awareness flows directly to a firm’s bottom-line
The Korn Ferry Institute analyzed a total of 6,977 self-assessments from professionals at 486 publicly traded companies to identify the “blind spots” in individuals’ leadership characteristics. A blind spot is defined as a skill that the professional counted among his or her strengths, when co-workers cited that same skill as one of the professional’s weaknesses.

  • The frequency of such blind spots was then gauged against the ROR of those companies’ stock. The analysis demonstrated that, on average:
    Poorly performing companies’ professionals had 20 percent more blind spots than those working at financially strong companies.
  • Poor-performing companies’ professionals were 79 percent more likely to have low overall self-awareness than those at firms with robust ROR.

However, the author also argues that self-awareness alone is not sufficient to improve leadership effectiveness. Management guru Peter Drucker once said: “The problem in my life and other people’s lives is not the absence of knowing what to do but the absence of doing it.”

So how does a leader move from knowing to doing? Working with a coach [external or line manager] can help a leader overcome their limiting beliefs and barriers, generate options and action plans, and help keep the leader focused and motivated.

So the next time someone approaches your tentatively and asks “can I give you some feedback?” – drop everything, pay attention, and thank the person for the feedback. Then, don’t just stand there, do something about it! You’ll be a better leader, a better person, and you will be making a positive contribution to your organizations financial.

About Emenex

We help you make your 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 delivers higher levels of profit, productivity and customer satisfaction. They also know that a more progressive solution is required – one that delivers above and beyond expectations and enhances their brand with customers and staff alike. The solution our clients are choosing to implement is the extraMILETM Employee Engagement Programme.

The extraMILETM Employee Engagement Programme 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. Get in touch to find out more.

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