Engaging your people is not that hard.

As a CEO, entrepreneur and business advisor I understand how critical employee engagement is to developing and sustaining a great culture. Great culture is a huge competitive advantage with benefits flowing from low turnover, higher productivity and levels of innovation. 

Engagement is not complex. People engagement stems from the most basic elements of human needs and behaviour. I think businesses should start with the basics and measure the results. 

These are 8 actions you can take without spending money to improve your people engagement.

8 Actions You Can Do Now to Boost Engagement in Your Business

  1. Write accurate position descriptions for every role in your business. People need to know the parameters of their work and the expectations for the position they hold. 
  2. Implement a three phase performance review process. I usually start at a three phase process but ideally it is more frequent. The first phase is goal setting. The second phase is a progress review and course correction as needed. The third session is a performance review that is used to plan development, succession, remuneration etc. 
  3. Cascade your strategy by scheduling weekly team meetings between managers and their teams. The purpose of these meetings is to track tasks and activity aligned with the strategic goals of the business. We use a set agenda for these meetings and they are of enormous value in keeping a business on track to achieve its strategy. 
  4. The business owner or CEO must be visible to the people in the business. This means the CEO is accessible informally as well as formally. You can learn a great deal about a company culture by the body language of employees when the CEO is nearby. 
  5. The business owner or CEO must use a channel of communication that keeps all people up to date with what is going on in the business and in the market they operate in. Some of my clients use newsletters or simple emails. I prefer a video that can be delivered from the company intranet or via Vimeo or YouTube.  
  6. People must have access to learning opportunities. Many firms have adopted learning management system to offer online learning for both professional and personal development. Some of my clients have created some very engaging learning using iPhone video, screen recording and other low cost tools. They deliver this video based learning on YouTube or Vimeo. You should at least have a process to encourage people to request training and demonstrate your commitment to training by allocating a budget for this purpose.
  7. Coaching and mentoring will do so much to ensure you do not lose valuable knowledge when people leave your business. Most people really enjoy the opportunity to coach and mentor other people. You must ensure there is a purpose and a pathway for the coaching and mentoring to avoid the program going off the rails. 
  8. Celebrate! Celebration is a social activity that is one of the easiest ways to build relationship bonds between people. I always recommend that no birthday goes un-celebrated. You can celebrate new sales, achievement of goals, personal milestones etc. You can also include social functions around the holidays such as Christmas. One of my personal favourites is including your key customers in some celebrations. What better way to forge strong bonds of engagement between your people and the people they serve. 

The 8 actions above should be done regardless of whether you see signs of deteriorating engagement in your business. If you are aware of the need to improve people engagement it may be time to get some help.  Let’s face it:  it always helps having another person to give you perspective and honest feedback.  You need to get some advice from a person who can bring ‘fresh thinking’ to your business and get your people engaged and performing at their peak. 

Do you need a trusted business advisor, someone who can help you see your business and goals through ‘fresh eyes’?  Contact me and I will work with you to look at where you want to go and help you find the best way to get there.

High Performance Culture and Alignment

According to an excellent whitepaper by Aon Hewitt, (Getting Real About Creating a High Performance Culture, 2016),” ….46% of organisations identified defining or aligning culture as a key priority.”

Culture is a key competitive advantage. Change is occurring too rapidly to forecast accurately. The workforce is facing challenges in their personal lives that may lead to increased fear and uncertainty about the future. The separation between personal and work life has always been a myth. Now that we have non-stop news and information overload assaulting us from every device we have, it is impossible to imagine the workplace as a quarantine. It is a tough time to define, build and sustain a high performance culture.

In some experiences I have had recently, organisations have had leadership adopt a ‘batten down the hatches’ philosophy. The indicators visible to an external consultant working with such an organisation include poor strategic communication, confusion about accepted behavioural norms and fear. The fear is not always easily identified. I always find it in companies that lack meeting rhythm between managers and employees. I see it where there is little ‘ground level’ innovation going on to improve effectiveness and productivity. There are other ways fear is identified.

How does a leader deal with culture in this geo-political economic era? I suggest it is a return to some very basics of interpersonal relationship skills. It would be great if it was not a ‘return’ as opposed to a refocusing. Most people involved in an interpersonal relationship and particularly an intimate one, would identify communication as the primary contributor to the health of the relationship.

It is no different in an organisational culture. However, many leaders of organisations have behavioural styles that deliver communication in short direct bursts as opposed to a story or interactive dialogue. Communication is often delegated and diluted. People see through this and it only leads to greater fear, uncertainty and disengagement.

I believe vision is critical. Vision is critical to individuals, couples, families, organisations, communities and all the way up to nation states. Without a vision it is impossible to build a compelling strategy and even more impossible to engage people to execute the work needed to achieve strategic objectives. 

Without a vision, your mission will be detached and unaligned to anything meaningful to your people. Lack of meaning equals lack of engagement. Lack of engagement kills a high performance culture.

These are only two big picture contributors to a sustainable high-performance culture. Communication and vision. There are others. I offer below two of the most impactful high- level initiatives that will contribute to changing a toxic or poor performance culture to a high performance culture.

·        Learning and development is part of the culture and not dependent upon people asking permission or waiting for approval. Senior leadership support learning and allocate resources to learning opportunities openly. Learning is linked to performance management processes. Learning is used to support innovation and collaborative, social knowledge sharing.

·        Senior leadership is visible and accessible. There are some huge companies I have worked with that have leaders who leverage technology to remain accessible. When senior leadership communicates, they do so openly and transparently. Senior leadership repeats vital messages to ensure there is retention. The senior leadership never cease to show the alignment of strategy to the work that people are doing throughout the organisation.

LMS Guide: Communities of Practice

Collaborative informal learning can be called all sorts of names. Community of practice is one term that has been around for a long time and many people know generally what a community of practice is and what it is for.  When we install our Percepium LMS for a client the ‘out of the box’ name for the module is ‘Expert Area.’ This can of course be changed but we thought this name was a good alternative that simplified the concept a bit.                                                     Expert Areas
We designed the Expert Area to be fully integrated with all of the learning and development features in the LMS environment. This ensures that the community of people engaging with an Expert Area may find social collaboration as well as published learning courses, articles and development pathways.
There is really nothing you cannot do with Expert Areas. The subject matter experts may publish to the LMS and offer both elective and mandatory learning activities. The learning activities may be instructor led or online.
When the Expert Areas module is used across an extended enterprise it becomes a powerful tool to engage prospects, customers, resellers and partners with subject matter experts in your business. The usefulness of this scenario is enormous and here are some ways we have implemented this for our clients:
  • Support a culture of excellence by identifying and encouraging people to connect and interact with subject matter experts.
  • Training resellers and retailers in new products and services.
  • Delivering sales training to people who sell your products and services.
  • Encourage prospective clients to engage with subject matter experts and their published collateral to engage in educational marketing and begin the process of relationship development.
  • Establish communities of practice that include both internal and external experts. This has had a profound impact on innovation and speed to market for one of  our clients in particular.
  • Prevent ‘brain drain’ when people leave your organisation for any reason. The Expert Areas encourage the capture of best practices and knowledge.
One of our recent clients have adapted the Expert Area module to support an enterprise wide coaching program. Managers were provided training in conducting and managing coaching and mentoring skills using blended learning delivery. The Expert Areas Module was rebranded to Coaching Portal and users now have access to their coaches and mentors in the learning environment.
We dovetailed this with the Development Plans module and now the coaches have line of sight to both the learning activities of the people they are coaching as well as being able to add new development activities as the coaching process advances.
As we upgrade our existing clients and add new clients to our community, we will learn more innovative ways to use this module in organisations. Expert Areas is an example of how uniquely designed DOTS Percepium LMS is to provide maximum configurability without software bloat.
If you would like to learn more about Communities of Practice, Expert Areas and our latest third generation Learning Management System, please get in touch.

Managers Don’t Like Performance Reviews

According to a recent study published by SHRM, 9 out of 10 line managers report that they do not like preparing for and delivering the annual performance review. 9 out 10 HR Managers report that they cannot rely on the data in the annual performance reviews. And most employees will agree that they would rather go to the dentist than go through a performance review!

What’s the point? Many people complain they see no outcomes from performance reviews. If there are no next actions then why are they conducted in the first place?

Clearly the system is broken!             People at desk

It does not have to be this way. Give your managers the learning they need to deliver effective performance reviews that will build a performance culture and improve employee engagement. Performance Reviews can be a positive experience for both managers and their people.

Introducing the Performance Management and Development Toolkit for Managers. This set of e-learning courseware will solve some of the most common performance management, performance review and development headaches. Turn the one time per year discussions into on-going discussions. Create valuable annual reviews driving development resulting in more motivated employees.

Get in touch and we can let you have a look at this suite of e-learning modules.

Is Productivity Killing Your Business?

Productivity is a hugely popular topic and there is no shortage of authors, teachers and ‘gurus’ out there to help you get more productive. You may be using Microsoft Outlook at work but if you do a search on ‘productivity apps’ you will get an avalanche of options for your laptop, phone and tablet. Productivity is a big deal and big business. It has advanced way beyond the days of sending people to a time management program and see them return with a paper planner in a binder. If you don’t remember those days you did not miss much.

Do you ever wonder why key strategic milestones and projects are not completed successfully and on time? Is your organisation slow to respond to changing internal external pressures? Are you only discovering failed or stalled projects when it is too late?

Organisational and team productivity is not always a sum of the ‘parts.’ Every person in a team may be highly productive but this does not always translate to overall productivity when measured by successfully achieving objectives. As a leader you need to take a deeper dive and build processes that will ensure productive activity achieves outcomes.         Strategy Cascade.001

Our process on a high level includes the following and we may go into a deeper dive in subsequent posts. In addition we have a number of tools to help teams and managers execute tasks and achieves tasks more effectively.

  1. Your corporate or organisation’s strategy must be clearly ‘cascaded’ to the individual level. Each person must have ‘line of sight’ from their role to the overall strategy.
  2. Your strategy should be broken down into goals, objectives and tasks in alignment with your structure and the strategic horizons assigned to roles and job titles in your business. This is a very simple structure.
  3. The most difficult phase of achieving excellence in execution is changing the way people work together and introducing systems and discipline in at least one management process. This process includes the following steps:
  • Weekly team meetings with a structure set of questions coupled with accurate note taking, task creation, task assignments and follow up. The manager meets with the team every week.
  • The agenda is fast and focused.
    • What are you working? Is it on your work plan and/or task list?
    • Is there anything or person disrupting or distracting you from achieving completion?
    • The manager asks, “What can I do to ‘clear the path’ or support you in achieving your tasks?” This is recorded as well.
    • The manager has one day or less to follow up with the person on actions taken.

4. The meetings are fully documented and retained. I have clients who use OneNote or          Evernote to record these meetings. The information captured is excellent for use in      management meetings, reporting up the organisation and for performance reviews with the manager and team members.

This can be a major change program depending upon existing systems and processes in your business and the culture you have. This type of process must be implemented at all levels of the organisation and not focused on one business unit or functional area. All managers who will be conducting the weekly team meetings must be trained in how to conduct them and record information. If a manager is away for any reason the weekly meetings must still occur.

The end in mind for this change initiative is achieving higher levels of engagement, adaptability and competitiveness. You achieve these outcomes by enabling people to work effectively to achieve your strategic objectives.