Archive for category team building
So it’s being talked about in a huge way. Again. Seems to come around every few years. The reason? It isn’t solved yet and many business people feel it’s getting worse. What is this illusive employee problem? It is employee engagement.
In the discussions on Linkedin and other places there are many different definitions that have occurred about what employee engagement is and why should anyone be concerned. The concern should be there because we are talking about the people that take care of the customers. If these people (employees) are not engaged the customers feel it and know it. This has been called customer service but this is incredibly more.
Now I know that it is going to be said by some to have a committee look into it, or let’s have a survey, or perhaps get into small discussion groups, measure, and then a plan will be made. I know that things need to get measured at businesses but there are times to just go back to basics. Managers can tell from observation just how involved or uninvolved a work group is being. Much like morale employee engagement is identifiable. Maybe managers might need a little direction on what to look for but if they know their people they will be able to identify when employees start to disengage. At least enough to see that further investigating might be in order.
The emphasis should be on the frontline and should be done through the frontline manager. This manager is the one that will accomplish employee engagement through actions and beliefs. Belief that his or her team is the best, is capable, that knowing the team is crucial, and actions of praise, caring, training, mentoring, coaching to name a few. But this manager needs to have the tools, techniques, and mindset to get this done.
It cannot be accomplished simply through task driven activities. There must be a relationship and the allowance for this manager to think, to defend the team, to have the time to spend with the team, to give attention, to define the common goals, and to be the professional coach. It is pretty common knowledge that frontline managers get the least attention and much is expected. They have the most effect on the frontline employees yet often do not have the freedom to try new things.
Back to basics is what occurs when things have gotten off track and yet greatness is what is wanted. The basics here are building a team, defining the roles of the team, giving some freedom, training new mindsets, relationship building, showing the importance of each role, getting rid of blame, thinking how far a team can go, striving to make a difference, and putting incredible energies towards the customers.
Engagement can be talked about forever and if history is telling that’s seems to be what has happened over and over. The companies that go after employee engagement are the ones I believe will be far ahead of the companies that ignore it. Polls have already indicated that CEO’s are dissatisfied with the frontline from around the world. There will be some companies that make the news on how they cared enough to develop their frontline managers in a more proactive way. What this will take is making sure that the training is completed through the implementation stage and follow-up occurs regularly.
Customer excellence is the goal. Employee engagement is a must. Frontline manager training should be a priority.
By business articles and experts like Harvard Business and the Fiscal Times reputation is brought up over and over. Though in many cases not directly said reputations are being discussed. Even though employee engagement, motivation, spending cuts, and asking more may be the topics, the reflection is on the companies. Here’s an example. http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/01/21/Too-Cheap-with-Your-Valued-Staff-Know-the-Risks.aspx
When the economy is poor the companies are in even more power. Really where is an employee going to go? The perception is there are no jobs out there. But as stated so well in the above article there will be repercussions. But instead of employees leaving let’s talk about when they quit and stay.
If employee disengagement is getting mentioned this is really about employees doing the least or minimum in their jobs. In other words they are getting by. It’s not bad enough for termination and it’s not good enough for recognition and praise. For various reason but mostly because there is now a dis-connect from their manager or company and there is a feeling they are not cared about. Thus the response becomes quitting, well as much as is possible and still keep the job.
There is a lot of talk happening about employee engagement because it has huge costs. There are the monetary costs of course but there are also the costs in poor customer service, employees being indifferent or showing frustrations, customers leaving, employees leaving, and yes the company’s reputation.
What the discussions need to start focusing on is the ways to correct this. This is not and will not be a quick fix. Nor should it be. Once the training has been done to the front line managers and the employees are responding with more engagement there must also be an emphasis on the maintenance of the team.
Everything a manager or business does affects the reputation. And employees notice.
Most of the time when a manager, supervisor, or coach takes over a team they are not building it from scratch. Instead a team has been a team for awhile or at the very least a group of people have been together for awhile. At times this is looked at as the team already exists and just needs to go on with maybe some tweaking along the way. I’m going to suggest not to look at it this way. I’m suggesting to look at it as building a new team.
Before anything is done in changes take the time to observe this team as a whole and the individual member of the team. Tell your boss that you are going to do this. This does a few things. First it allows you in a relaxed manner to get to know people a little, the team members relax and act more themselves, you see what works and get a sense of what needs to be changed, and the group did not feel like everything was going to change immediately. Most often this is the start of a good relationship.
Don’t just change things for the sake of changing things. See what works and leave it alone for awhile. As you have your goals of where the team needs to go, you can now use your observations of the individuals to put them in the roles you think will be the strongest. This is also a great time to give people something new because it naturally gets people recharged. It is terrific to explain why this is happening and showing the goal you have in mind that you want to see the team reach. This is not always a concrete goal but might be simply seeing the team come together more, help each other, or being precise.
Going a little slower allows the member of the team to feel you are a part of the team before changes were made. I find there is less resistance this way with the flow coming easier.
Liz Cosline – Ownership Coach/Team Enhancer
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“Can’t get there from here” is a New England statement that has to be said with a very thick New England accent. It’s used because,especially way up north, all roads do not connect. And wouldn’t you know it.This idea applies to business too. “Here” is a work environment where employees are disengaged, i.e. distrusting, minimal performing, low energy, etc. “There” is a work environment where employees are energized, contributing, productive. The “road” that leads to the first cannot get you to the second. It takes a different route.
When managers are not trusted to coach, to make decisions, to engage the employees and keep them engaged (to name a few) – business can’t
get to the one thing they talk about wanting. According to many different polls by Gallup and others, business leaders
want employees to choose and to want to better the company, to better the customer experience, and to better themselves. Without a strong coaching relationship between the front line manager and the team, guess what? “Can’t get there from here.”
Business does train and does try new ways to keep employees energized but there seems to be a gap. Doing more tasks or implementing new procedures will not keep employees engaged. Engagement is a choice, whether conscious or subconscious, because there is a reason for being engaged. This could be fulfillment, recognition, career advancement, a feeling of satisfaction, self-improvement, learning, a promotion, or a host of other reasons. The point is the employee has worth and knows it, because it is consistently communicated. And let us not forget that managing an engaged group of employees is not only easier, but more rewarding for the manager in every way.
What is the view from the front? Is the employee seeing the same things the leadership is seeing?
Have the goals and the vision been defined in a way that both parties have the same definition? The perspective of an employee is different than that of management. How can it not be? It isn’t that one is more invested than the other with respect to commitment. Rather, it is more about how information is perceived. If management is asking for more to be done without fully considering the impact it will have on the employees, the employees will see it as negative. If blaming occurs because things are not getting accomplished without seeing why, employees will be resentful. If employees are being treated poorly (lots of negative reinforcement, little or no positive reinforcement) or never recognized, for example, then employees will disengage.
The process of engagement is grounded in how managers treat the employees. The relationship develops while going after the same defined
goals. The frontline manager, especially, is the foundation or source from which the team works. This relationship is one of support, coaching, mentoring, accountability, pushing for greatness in each individual, listening, challenging, defending, and working towards company and individual goals.
Engagement is an indicator. How engaged one is in a relationship, whether personal or work, is much like barometric pressure. Barometric pressure helps us understand weather conditions. When the pressure changes, so do the conditions. Pressure up and we’re looking at good weather; down, and it’s a storm. Employee engagement, or lack thereof is an excellent way to understand the work environment. It lets us know what’s going on and even how it will be going forward. So, less engagement and the work environment is sluggish. Productivity, efficiency, customer service and profit suffer. More engagement and the work environment is good. Work is getting done efficiently and productively, employees are committed and part of the team, and their contribution to the overall health of the organization is valued and recognized. This looks like the road worth taking.
Liz Cosline – Coach and team Enhancer. Developer and founder of the From the Front Management™ Training Program for frontline managers. Liz coaches individuals and teams on balancing, bringing out potential, becoming coaches, and employee
engagement. In business management over 23 years in different industries receiving several awards with appearances on
many radio programs.
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