Wednesday, May 23, 2012

People’s Engagement…The Name of the Game

Engagement is defined by Scarlett Surveys International as “the process of leading people by enabling them to want to do whatever is necessary to ensure the continuous high performance and success of the business. From the employees’ perspective, engagement is their attitudinal and emotional state developed from experiences perceived to be controlled by management. These experiences or “drivers” determine engagement level. By managing these drivers to be positive experiences, leaders can stimulate an intrinsic desire for employees to consistently do their best work".

Companies that thrive on success keep their employees engaged at all times.  They keep an ear open for people’s thoughts, ideas, creativity, change, needs and opinion.  They use several known tools to measure the satisfaction rate and engagement in the Company.  They are highly sensitive to the people’s emotions.  Thus, those organizations are emotionally intelligent.  They build their capabilities around people to help them drive growth and change.  They understand that change is the only constant that will remain as it is part of the human evolution.  The result is always employees that are satisfied and engaged.

There are 4 types of employees:
1.       Satisfied and Engaged (well and well)
2.       Satisfied and Disengaged (satisfied with the package and the environment, but disengaged from work)
3.       Unsatisfied and Engaged (unsatisfied from the job but hoping for better opportunities within the company in the future)
4.       Unsatisfied and Disengaged (those are people who are not satisfied nor attuned to the company.  They will leave if a better opportunity comes through.  They also may ruin the company work environment as they may spread rumors through the grapevine and set as bad examples for others)

Every organization will have a mixture of the 4 types above.  The question is how to minimize the lower 3 and retain the top 1. 

Employees that are satisfied but unengaged are not bad employees, but are employees that were put in the wrong job, against their desire, whom could be talented and their talents are not put into implementation, employees that have bad managers or alternatively employees that are having personal problems and so forth. 

Smart Companies will pick those out of the bunch and describe the right antidote for them.  This could be in the form of job rotation, change of job, job enrichment, follow-up, or simply analyzing or assessing their capabilities, and providing them with the right solution(s).  They will also capitalize on their strengths if they were talented. 

Nevertheless, if the problem is due to having a “bad” manager as the deal in many cases, we should think positive and look for solutions, especially if the “bad” manager is a good performer, rather than pointing the finger and exchanging blames. We have to understand that they are not bad people, but rather task oriented people. They do things right rather than doing the right thing.  Therefore, the only antidotes with this type of people are to shift their mindset from task to people and show them tangible results. 

One way of doing so is through continuous coaching, counseling and mentoring over a period of time.  Another way is through training them in people’s management skills, while maintaining their motivation level.  All this should be done in a positive atmosphere, in order to reach a win-win solution.    

Conversely, there are those, who are disengaged, due to personal problems and should be listened to.  In fact, studies have shown that by just listening, many solutions will surface and accordingly engagement will be attained.

Smart companies will also explore those, who are unsatisfied but engaged, because ultimately it engagement that leads to triumph.  Unsatisfied employees are employees that are not up to their full potentials.  In other words, they are temporarily deactivated. 

Consequently, the first step to activate them back is to listen to them either through face-to-face interviews, if they are identified, or through a survey.  Sometimes, they are the unsung heroes that we search for, but opportunities have skipped them.  May be it is time to do a whole organizational restructure or review their cases on personal basis.  Train them for a different job that has a better opportunity or shift them to a different department if the opportunity is lacking in theirs. 

The final group is those who are unsatisfied and disengaged.  They sit idle in the shadow and are not interested in any type of work, unless it comes cross them or are given.  If they are not dealt with in a timely manner, they can affect the morals of people and slowly convert many to their type.  One of the solutions is to hold their managers accountable for their “dysfunctionality”. 

Pay, job or anything that is keeping them unsatisfied should be met with clear and SMART goals.  They should also be mentored and coached continuously, in order to ensure the manifestation of learning and change in attitude and work.  They should feel that they are part of the "big family" (the company) and not merely another number in the records.  They should also be warned from spreading any news through the grapevine. 

The human being is the most complex thing in the universe.  Organizations ultimate goal is to have their people engaged and synchronized to achieve the strategic objectives and grow.  However, to reach out for the people, you will need more than systems, words, policies and procedures.  Knowing the type of people you are dealing with will ultimately help you design the right antidote for them.  Certainly everybody has a key to be unlocked and turned on, the question that puzzles many organizations is HOW?!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Empowered People, Empowered Organization

What is empowerment? How does it differ from delegation?  Are they the same? What is authority?

E: Empowerment (power to take decisions in the assigned tasks with autonomy)
D: Delegation (assigned tasks)
D+: Decision making (the right to choose with authority)
R: Responsibility (accountable for the tasks)
A: Authority (the rights to the power)
A+: Autonomy (the right and space required to be free to take decisions)
C+: Competence (knowledge, skills and attitude)
C: Confidence (trust in oneself)
T: Trust (the confidence in others)
P: Power (influence and authority)

Now that we have the values (abbreviations), let’s workout the formulas.  Empowerment is defined as delegation with responsibility and authority.  The formula of Empowerment is E=DRA+(A+)D+.  Delegation=R-A.  Authority=PR+T.  Finally, the formula of Trust is T=(C+)+C. 

Empowerment cannot be achieved without authority.  Authority on the other hand cannot be achieved without trust.  Trust cannot be achieved without confidence. And confidence cannot be achieved without competence. 

To start empowering your people, develop leadership competence in the middle and top management, otherwise, nothing will be implemented.  Leaders believe in people that people know best and accordingly will provide them with the autonomy to make decisions.  In fact, empowerment is the core of leadership and differentiates leadership from management. 

Moreover, organizations should have systems in place that define the boundaries of each manager\leader’s job, such as the delegation of authority matrix (DOA).  Employees\HR manual should be published and easily accessed.  Employee should have an employee handbook that details their rights. The manual should be updated on a semi or annual basis. Training should be continuous to provide people with the required competence. 

Managers should build trust in their people and walk the talk with them.  When certain competence is required, people should be trained and allow to practice, otherwise learning will remain as a concept\knowledge and a waste of time and money.  If knowledge is not practiced, then it is not a skill that can be put to the test.    

There should also be standards that measure the required competence and it is not merely what the manager feels or wants.  Standards are built on the industries best practice. 

Finally, a healthy environment is a must with no blame policy will aid to transform delegation to empowerment and mistakes to learning. 

When you empower people, you empower your organization to be the best in class, because people know best.  They will perform their work in autonomy and with passion, which is the igniting “fuel” to success.

If you Google empowerment, you’ll find more than 50 million definitions around.  However, if you go back to the basics, you’ll find that empowerment has its own known formula of combining various derivatives, which are the prerequisites to reaching the right mix for a world-class organization that thrives on success and celebrates its people in the process.  And the right mix always starts with the right leadership in action.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Welcome to the “Values” Boulevard - The Key to Organizational Success

Welcome to the “Values” Boulevard
The Key to Organizational Success

The main challenge of today’s corporate business is to engage and synchronize people towards the mission and vision of the organization.  Corporate values make up the corporate culture.  Similarly, when you share your values with your neighborhood.  They are the glue that ties people together and helps people homogenize and live in harmony.  If you move to a neighborhood that doesn’t share your values, you will ultimately leave because you have nothing in “common” with them.  The same is true in most families where values ties them together.  When we meet people with values, we pay them respect and call them people of “principles”.  

Values are simply your beliefs, perceptions, principles and disciplines that make up your attitude towards life.  The Oxford dictionary defines values as “principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgment of what is important in life, e.g. they internalize their parents' rules and values”. defines values as “n: beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something); "he has very conservatives’ values".  Values dedicate the way we behave, act and socialize as well as the way we think.  They reside not only in the conscious mind, but in the subconscious where the giant lies and are the derivates to our actions. 

This is true in corporate business too.  Organizations that leave a legacy behind focus on the entry level to the organization and ensure that people whom are being recruited meet the corporate values during the interview assessment.  

Almost all organizations that define their values would also spell out the attributes or the behaviours that make up those values in organizational terms. This is to ensure consistency of understanding and practice among all levels of the organization, in other words "one voice".  Few companies go beyond this and include values in any conflict resolution(s) or management of disagreements.   

Living the values means that you walk the talk.  To walk the talk is very important for leaders, because it shows their true colors and credibility.  Those leaders set an example for others to follow and the only way they click with people is through the values.  In other words, they lead by example.  Without this common binding chemistry, there will be disbelieve, discontent and lack of trust among the people.  Consequently moral, ethical and other issues will rise slowly but surely to eat up the organization inside-out like a decay or epidemic that spreads through the organizational “grapevine”, which is the informal mean of communication in organizations. Hence, good leaders will abide by the values regardless of the situations that may face.   

In fact, values are a measurement of success in many organizations.  Studies have shown that organizations that live the value have a higher retention rate than the rest.  More teamwork, empowerment, faster decision making time, higher motivation level, citizenship, loyalty, confidence and trust, are few attributes of living the values, which all eventually contribute to the success and growth of the organization.   

Although values are hard to measure due to their subjectivity, they can be measure through few assessment tools such as assessment centers, psychometrics, face to face focused interview and so forth.  They can also be measure through observed actions.

An example of a set of values

The recent theory in leadership, which has been published by Steven Covey titled Principle Centered Leadership talks exactly how principles and values drive organizational success.

Values play a big role in the way people adhere to the laws, rules, regulations, policies, procedures and guidelines.  However, it is crucial to have birds of the same flock, sort of speak, through your recruitment process, as the old saying goes, birds of the same flock fly together. 

True leaders will soar high by living the values; build a culture and set a good example for others to follow.  Values are the baseline of engagement just like the soil to the plant, where organizations nourishes and nurtures on and without such fertile soil, organizations will definitely dry out and die, when times get tough and the heat is on.   

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Yin & Yang of Leadership - Building a Legacy in the Process…

Last week, I presented to the 8th Emiratization Congress, the impact of leadership in the retention of people.  A presentation that would highlight the role that leadership plays in the retention, motivation, promotion of innovative ideas, change management, and a healthy productive work environment. 

Isn’t that what business is all about, growth and people?  Isn’t also true that the more the organization grows, the more opportunities flourish for high potentials and accordingly growth becomes part of the organizational learning? 

Haven’t we all heard of that good people leave organizations because of bad managers?  Why the old saying didn’t say bad leaders by the way?!!  Or are they the same? 

Warren Bennis, an American Business Guru, states the difference between managers and leaders is the difference between those who do things right, and those who do the right thing.  So, why do few companies fail to see the difference and rather than shifting the paradigm and changing vertical thinking (silo thinking) to lateral, they keep on promoting those people who do things right to the top of the pyramid?!! Guess what? Those are the basic reason why successful organizations tumble, and before the organization is aware, people are out of the door looking for opportunities elsewhere. 

So, is it your product that makes you superior or is it your people?!! Think about it if you want to move to the next level in competition.  Otherwise, you will be left all alone in a world of your own. 

Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines, the best budget airline in the world, was quoted when he was asked, what his leadership style was, he said that his style was “believing in his people, and his people believe in their customers, and their customers simply just grow”.  Now, how difficult is this formula? 

The difficulty lies in choosing the right people who would lead rather than would manage.  There are people who better left at their work, perfecting what they know best, rather than jumping them up the ladder to leadership roles.  That is why successful organizations build different professional growth ladders to capitalize on the strength of people. 

Many companies are now history due to their emphasis on product(s) rather than on people.  Who has not heard of Kleenex and Xerox?  In fact, there are people who still use the name of those companies as verbs.  Believe that!!  Where have big names such as Philips electronics, Atari, Pan Am, TWA, Maxwell recording media, etc. gone?  They surely had superior products, but with poor leadership and the results were…bye bye amigos. 

Recent studies, 2011, show that the top 5 worst companies to work for are:
1. DHL Express (USA)
2. United Airlines
3. Reynolds and Reynolds
4. Farmers Group
5. Gibson Guitar

Now, can you measure how much would such announcements publicly hurt the reputation of those companies, and respectively, their sales and profits?

Ultimately leadership is all about the three P’s.  People, Purpose and Passion.  If you can integrate the three, then you have solved the formula of “Engagement”. 

The cycle continues and few will fail to see that it is people and not products that make up successful, thriving and winning organizations.  It is what I call success with an attitude!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Corporate Ethics - Whose Ethics Are They Any Ways?!

All companies have some kind of ethical codes, whether implied or expressed, especially within the GCC.  Many organizations bring consultants to lay down those codes for them or at least would take the advice of a consultant once the codes are identified and about to be published to the employees and to the external customers.  Employees are usually asked to acknowledge the understanding of those codes. 

The question here is do we need consultants to lay down the codes for us and tell us what is right from wrong?  Whose codes do they follow any ways? Aren’t our ethical codes embedded already in our culture and we have been fed with the ethics since we were “knee high to a grasshopper”, sort of speak?  Aren’t our ethics based on our religious beliefs that never change and stand out time?  So…why do we need consultants from else where to tell us what is right and what is wrong, in terms of internal or external organizational governance and business, while the organization is operating within the boundaries of our ethical “built-in” values? 

Unlike many other cultures, where the ethical values are a mixture of religious beliefs and best practices that dominated the way they do business and socialize, our values are part of what makes up our identity and therefore, it is a taboo to violate them.  In fact, violators are stigmatized with shame. 

So, instead of reaching out for others, we should look at the jewels we have in our set of values that we believe in and practice every single day.  Are we that na├»ve, inexperienced and uneducated to require a consultant, from somewhere else, to tell us what is right and what is wrong?  To lay down few documents and get paid "handsomely"?  To believe in others rather than believing in ourselves, in our capabilities and competence?  Haven’t we been growing all our life on values, principles, cultural understandings and teachings?

So why do organizations turn to consultants to set their ethical codes, policies and procedures?  Why is it true in all types of organizations; be it educational, industrial, medical and so forth?  If we are planning to contribute to the rise of our nations, then I believe we will need to go back to the basics and assess our capabilities, have trust and confidence in ourselves and seek the help of others only when we lack the expertise ourselves.