Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 6


Our organization recently enhanced a client relationship by using an Employee Engagement Survey to understand a new generation of worker's program preferences.

The Results: We found out that 91% of the employee population did not want lapel pins in their service anniversary program.

The Lesson: Senior Management's best intention's can be out of touch with that which motivates Workforce Engagement.

Action Items: We need More Data from Varying Teams to formulate a more well rounded Company Culture.

In this blog series we have learned the following:
* Personal Branding is more important to today's talent than Company Loyalty
* Corporate Vision, Values and Mission have replaced Logos
* Innovation has trumped Tradition

The results of our ability to assess what matters to tomorrow's talent have all come at the expense of Senior Leaders swallowing a jagged pill:
* What got us here will not keep us here
* The times they are a-changin'

If you are asking the torch to be passed and for new ideas to be accepted there is one sharp edged tool you better have:


There are three prevalent ways to gather actionable data:
* Employee Engagement Surveys
* Trial by Committee

* Testimonials through personal case studies

Surveys are traditionally not answered with the slightest of confidence for two reasons:
* Fear of confidentiality
* Unengagining questions

Your Challenge:
1. Present an Employee Engagement survey that is assured anonymous (should come from HR or a confidential source - not direct managers)
2. Customize a Survey that speaks directly to the Business Critical Behaviors you wish to influence.

When you have the critical data it is time to turn this information into an Actionable Strategy:
* Drive an Employee Engagement Strategy
* Understand Trends and Take Action accordingly
* Present results in Business Critical fashion to your CEO
* Allow the organization to be VULNERABLE - it is OK to admit the past is behind us

In formulating an action committee it is vitally important to invite a diverse group:
* Multiple levels of authority (no senior managers to limit intimidation)
* Multiple departments
* Employees who are succeeding
* Employees who are struggling (YES!)

It is also vitally important to check your stripes at the door and encourage open will not come to those who hold back actionable strategy for the sake of being cordial.

If you are a Trusted Business Partner to Senior Management then your job may be less formal. Take to the break rooms, yoga classes, bars and back alleys. Dig in with unexpecting employees to get their opinions on organizational efficiency and the future of the company. You may be surprised what you hear.

In his book "Perspectives on Managing Employees", Mike Fina gives a Senior Management
Perspective on a variety of topics. This book is also courageous enough to invite the Employee Perspective on said topics. Again, the results are often varied and the lesson validated: To know the future of your organization you have to ask the people who will be running it when you are on the beach.

Don't Forget to Remember!
- Dave



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 5

Let the Battle for Talent Begin.....
Financial experts predict October 2009 to be the bottom point of this recession. Many companies have taken this in confidence and have lifted their hiring freeze. This means you will have an opportunity to interview a plethora of top talent and said talent will have several options for employment. Your companies Outstanding Leadership, Product Innovation and Commitment to Employee Appreciation will win the hiring battle....then what?

Many companies focus on training to ramp up new hire expertise. Training is usually accompanied by some sort of On-Boarding: fruit basket, 30 day reviews....The issue with most on-boarding programs:
* One Touch - Thanks for joining're on your own now.
* Employee Performance Analysis without focus on how the Company Can Improve.
* Programs that silo Line Managers from Corporate Vision.
* Welcome gifts that have no Long Term Value.

Studies show that Generation Y will have 13 different jobs by the age of 40. They have been held down for a while and are ready to start hopping again.

You need an On-Boarding program that will:
* Engage the new employee as a Valued and Critical Asset from Day One.
* Extend 'welcome basket appreciation' for their entire first year of employment.
* Reward Employee Feedback as opposed to continually analyzing their progress against your training plan.
* Provide a Source of Interaction above and beyond an employee handbook.
* Hold Middle Managers Accountable for keeping employees on track. Leadership is the primary influencer of Early Performance.

A few suggestions:
* Give new employees a gift every 90 days
* Ask for Employee Feedback every 90 days (corporate to employee)
* Manage Performance Expectations through Line Managers (not the new employee)
* Reward a gift at their First Year Anniversary

The great news: it's time to expand our workforce again!

The challenge: to be better by being different!

This recession has taught employees to be do more with less. Employees have done self reflection and returned to the simple things. The need for monumental salaries has been replaced by an enhanced work/life balance. Tomorrow's talent is focused on Giving Back to the Community, Persevering Mother Earth & Working Together (not in internal competition). They are looking for an Organized Professional Community not a Corporation. It is time to live your core values and bring them into the trenches. We are all in this together and the power is soon to be dispersed.

The best way to avoid obscurity is to utilize downtime by planning for the future.

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 4

Points for Participation

The recent economic recession and the rise of Generation Y in the work place have produced a glaring truth:

Micro-Management to produce a results driven corporate structure is no longer an option!

As the economy improves the 'lucky to have a job' excuse to abuse employees will be a contributing factor in losing the 'battle for talent'. A Gen Y-er recently told me, "The word Accountability intimidates people and people do not want to be motivated by intimidation".

It is time to re-tool our business culture to address a few note worthy practices:

* Reward the process do not micro-manage the results
* Collaboration not Competition
* Reward and Encourage Social Change and Responsibility as part of your Corporate Philosophy
* Make extra curricular activities voluntary
* Present Equal Opportunities for advancement
* Tenure alone no longer comes with extra privileges

Yes, today's evolving workforce wants to work at their own pace with equal recognition. They want CEO's to be green friendly and community service savvy. They want to be part of something bigger: a company vision that means more that punching a clock and improving stock value. They want to join the team today and have the same opportunities as 20 year veterans. The Baby Boomers who are running organization's often see this empowerment without a proven track record as immature and unrealistic. Be stubborn to corporate adaptation and you will find the talent of tomorrow will find greener pastures. The natives are soon to take over the village.

There is a simple, yet structured, way to to fulfill the worker of tomorrow's need for pro-active recognition of 'above and beyond' effort:

Develop a Points Program that banks points for participation and rewards accordingly!

* Employees attend a walk to benefit breast cancer research - they get points
* Employees submit a qualified nomination to reward a peer's effort - they get points
* Employees get points each year on their service anniversary
* Employees get points on their birthday
* Employees have a qualified 'big idea' - they get points
* Employees hit their quota for the month - they get points

A couple of things to consider to ensure the programs success:

Everybody WinsBold
* Make sure entry level prizes are attainable

* Do not make it a competition
- The majority of employees do not respond well to the race for the carrot
- Your core group of influence will choose not to participate
- The same person will win every time
- The others will give up
- Your 'cool new program' will be perceived as 'lip service'

Ease of Administration
* Develop an easy to use, effectively branded, points portal
* Make it voluntary
* Give Senior Management exposure to program results

The Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow
* The goal of this program is to increase collaboration:
- They will come for the gifts but stay for the community
* Develop a points scale that rewards high end gifts for high point totals
- Fulfills the competitive drive in those who 'have to win'
* Fun gifts at entry levels
- Create a deal or no deal 'cash out' scenario

When we were kids afternoon activities were voluntary. When the teacher pulled out the colorful parachute to bounce a ball on - everyone joined in the fun.

If you are too mature to participate in fun time activities- you are actually immature! Vulnerability is a trait of courage not weakness. If you mask your weaknesses and constantly pretend to be a consummate professional - you are masking your ability to continuously improve. It's true.

You do not have to be a jerk to produce results, you can be a friend and a leader to your employees, when people start realizing that the competition is with other companies in your industry and not within your own - results improve! That is a fact!

If you develop a company culture where 'everyone wins' the top performers will still fulfill their need to be 'the best'. You will be surprised to see those who usually shy away from the race join in because they understand that individual accolades are trumped by a common vision for success.

I have always been a competitor: I have little league trophies and corporate certificates to prove it. However, when I learned to eliminate the unnecessary internal need to prove my worth (sometimes called sucking up), I began to concentrate on what is important: Customers who cherish something they simply can not get anywhere else, innovative products driven by a mutual respect for EVERYONE'S contributions and irreplaceable friendships that are fostered through winning together!

Anyone can put a carrot on a stick and ask a group to run to it. Competition does not create real creates short term validation not long term skills. Teach them the skills and let them win together!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Employee Engagement; Part 3

Nominate, Collaborate and Enhance your Corporate Culture

I was a top performer in a Fortune 500 company. Always hit my numbers, was a leader to my team, won every contest that was initiated and was well respected throughout the organization. There was one problem: The company's track record for promoting from within was abysmal.

To be frank, I had hit the wall...or so I thought.

A special meeting was called at the end of the year. My entire team showed up at Headquarters and our VP walked in, "We have a special recognition award like this comes just once in a lifetime". She proceeded to give me a award that only 20 of 20,000 employees would receive. This award named me an Iconoclast of Innovation in the organization. We all enjoy recognition for our efforts, but I was immediately humbled by this paramount act of appreciation.

When our VP was done speaking the 10 people on my team each gave me a piece of paper displaying their justification for my nomination to Senior Management. It was a true 'Rudy' moment. I will never forget the men and women that validated my contributions to the organizations on that day!

Today, nomination programs are more easily accessible, allow a more structured appreciation on a more consistent basis and are usually driven through an online portal that is highly visible to Senior Management.

Mutual appreciation is the key to teamwork and teamwork drives results!

Every organization has diverse departments with diverse job functions and diverse styles of business productivity. This can create turmoil in the heat of battle:
* A Sales Rep that needs an order placed by Customer Service (right away).
* IT Director that pulls her team in @ 3am to complete a project by deadline.
* Union Professionals that battle safety standards to go 'above and beyond' to assist their company.

Some times we yell at one another in the heat of battle, occasionally a 'thank you' or 'sorry' is not enough, and often the extra effort goes completely unnoticed.

Consider this: The task is completed, customers are overjoyed by the extra effort and the business doors are locked for the day. As the under appreciated Customer Service Representative sits back at his cubicle an email pops up: "you have been nominated for a special achievement award"...this person follows a link to find a note from the Sales Rep who often makes his life hell: "Bill is a consummate professional, he takes on every task with pride and never fails to keep our customers elated. In Sales the pressure is great as we are the face to the customer, if Bill fails to deliver, I am in the customer's board room explaining.....Bill never fails...we always win....and our customers know they cannot get this type of attention anywhere else. Thank You Bill! Your efforts mean more than I could ever explain to you!"

Bill's manager sees the nomination and approves it (as does the Sales Reps).

In Human Resources we are required to remain level headed and unemotional. It is my contention, however, that human compassion is not only relevant in today's workplace; it is essential.

PEOPLE are what make our organizations great, and while they are always forthright in their determination to succeed, they all enjoy a pat on the back.

Through implementing a well manged nomination program your organization will:
* Enhance Collaboration
* Provide Validation for seemingly Unrecognized Effort
* Create a Drive to Succeed through the need for Continual Recognition
* Brand a Culture of Appreciation
* Bridge interdepartmental gaps
* Reduce Turnover (see above)
* Improve Revenue efficiency by encouraging extra effort!

Want to know how to synchronize nominations with service awards and corporate responsibility...visit this blog next week.

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave