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.

Strategic Execution vs Performance Management

Some businesses confuse performance management and execution of strategic objectives. It appears that more companies use performance management processes than businesses that have execution processes designed to achieve strategic objectives. 

How do performance management and strategic execution differ? 

Performance management is typically linked to a role or position. The position will be documented and include a list of competencies that are needed to perform the position. These competencies may be static or changing depending on the position.  Changes to competency requirements often occur when new strategic or tactical objectives are launched in the organisation. 

 A learning management system (LMS) can be used to audit the organisation for gaps in the new competency requirements. Training can be rolled out to address these gaps and enable the organisation to track status and completions. In the LMS, the competencies can be assessed using surveys or assessments by the individual, peers and managers. 

The performance management process typically operates on a cycle of goal setting and performance review meetings between managers and their teams. The employee is rated and human resources collects the data. The performance review process is ideally linked to learning and development plans that are then offered via an LMS and tracked accordingly. 

Strategic execution is how an organisation translates its strategic objectives to the workforce. The process is designed to ensure that management is able to track and monitor activity and progress to ensure strategic objectives are completed successfully in the timeframe allotted to them; typically a quarter, half year or financial year. 

The translation of strategy is often called a ‘cascade’ as it changes form the further it moves away from the board or senior executive level. The strategic objectives are translated to supporting goals, departmental targets, team goals and individual tasks. 

In the image below, a client uses Job Titles as opposed to Positions or Roles.  This client recently audited their job titles and created new position descriptions aligned with them. It made sense to use job titles as opposed to departments, teams or other organisational structure terminology. 

 

The key ingredient in ensuring that strategic objectives are executed is the use of regular status update meetings involving teams or individuals with their managers. These meetings are focused on the tasks that have been assigned to each individual.

The ‘check in’ meetings are short with a set agenda. The outcome is the manager has an up to date dashboard of project and task status. The employees are able to highlight issues or impediments that may be impacting performance and request assistance from the manager. The combined information captured in these meetings forms one part of the performance data used in performance reviews. 

On the strategic level, these meetings enable managers to forecast completion of key objectives as well as flag any possible delays.  This process prevents surprises for senior managers who will have less time to take corrective action.  

Can you really implement ‘grassroots’ social learning?

Social learning is leaving the standard LMS behind.

YouTube is THE social learning platform. The range of learning available on YouTube reflects the growth in informational data being created every minute of every day.

When you are faced with a computer issue, where do you go? If you are seeking to learn a new Excel skill? If you want to learn how to French polish an antique? The same process applies to people in your organization. According to research by Degreed in 2015, respondents to a survey indicated:

  • Almost 85% search online at least once a week for learning they can apply at work.
  • Nearly 70% learn from peers or by reading articles and blogs every week.
  • 53% learn from videos in any given week.

Not much of a mention for the corporate LMS? Social learning is based on speed of access, accuracy of subject matter and easy to apply learning. Does your current LMS and the content offered from it, comply with these parameters?

To address this issue by giving up on the LMS is not necessarily the best way to go. Many LMS platforms have been designed with an emphasis on ‘management’ as opposed to ‘learning.’ Many modern learning management systems include configuration options to support better social learning. It can often mean a change of mindset as opposed to a change in technology to achieve effective social learning outcomes.

You should check out this post by David James of Looop.co that gives an excellent example of how Sanoma Group ‘re-imagined’ L&D and successfully tapped into subject matter experts and created learning content that was easily accessible and improved peoples’ ability to do their work effectively.

If this interests you, get in touch by clicking here.  We will share some insights and a case study based on helping organisations achieve better results with ‘grassroots’ social learning.

How we do professional facilitation

You will have a facilitator who has deep experience in senior organisational leadership and has worked with a wide and diverse range of clients. You are assured that the work will get done and clear outcomes and next actions are identified from your facilitated workshop.

We make it easy for you to conduct a great workshop. Our facilitators use visual information mapping tools that ensures participants are always engaged with the content and understand the connections between concepts, ideas and decisions.

We will meet prior to the workshop(s) to undertake careful planning and preparation. You will have the option to include individual and team behavioural profiling as part of the workshop. Our facilitator will do extensive research to understand your organization deeply. You will be confident that our facilitator will remain within the parameters you set for the workshop and we will honour the unique culture that exists in your organization. 

We understand the dynamics that exist when you bring people together for a facilitated workshop. Our expertise will ensure we get the best input from all participants and prevent the workshop being dominated by individuals or a lapse into ‘group-think.’

The most requested facilitated workshops include:

·        Strategic planning

·        Building an execution culture

·        Executive retreats

·        Sales strategy

·        Marketing strategy

·        Scenario planning

·        Team effectiveness

·        Culture change

·        Tactical response

·        Innovation, new product and services development

This is how we do professional facilitation. We suggest scheduling a call or personal meeting to discuss your vision for the ideal facilitated workshop. We will discuss your strategy, goals and concerns. Our facilitator will ask questions and offer some ideas you can use whether you choose to engage us or not.

The CEO is stuck. Which way out?

Feeling stuck. Feeling tired at the end of the day. Feeling frustrated more easily and more often. This is how one of my new clients described her personal situation during our first project meeting. This CEO was stuck and could not get enough head space to find a way out of it.

I was hired to help her develop business development processes and build a sales team. There is no point trying to build business development processes when the CEO is not performing at a high level.

As the business grew during late 2016 and into 2017 the business became more complicated. Clients were asking for changes to the standard contracts. The person she recruited for a customer service role needed more time to become effective than anticipated. The salesperson was performance was mediocre at best with low levels of prospecting activity and demanding more time from the CEO to create proposals and close deals.

My client is naturally a person who is very strategic, goal focused, makes fast decisions and may appear a bit brash and aloof to other people. She thrived as an entrepreneur focused on strategy and growth. Now she was withering.

Conduct a personal audit of your daily activities. I suggest using your calendar software and applying categories and/or colours to denote different activity types. You may need to change your current calendar set up to conduct your audit. I would recommend a minimum of one month to conduct your audit.

My client and I worked out the following categories for her audit. She uses Outlook so these categories were created and colour coded.

·        Sales activity

·        Existing customers and responding to requests

·        Internal meetings

·        Contracts and negotiation

·        Networking

·        Marketing

·        Business Admin

The month long audit delivered some staggering insights.

My client was getting more involved in work that demanded attention to detail, meetings and adherence to processes.  She was being forced to move away from her natural behavioural style and adopting attributes that are not natural. She was becoming less and less productive and using more of her energy.

We proved what we both knew but the audit was a great exercise to view her in action as well as provide some quantifiable we can use to measure the change we were introducing to her and her business.

Where did we start? We assessed the people already in the business with behavioural profiles and personal interviews. As it turned out, the customer service person was behaviourally well suited to the role and its responsibilities. The sales person was borderline. This person was incredibly easy to get along with and great at creating and maintaining relationships. This sales person was going to have real difficulty closing deals.

We established a training routine for the customer service person that included 1:1 meetings with my client. We brought in a trainer who set up workflows that are aligned with the productivity tools used in the business; OneNote, OneDrive, Outlook and a CRM.

After some consideration it was decided the sales person would be retained. This person’s natural competencies are being applied to developing relationships with new potential clients and deepening relationships with existing clients. We created a methodology and process for this work to be undertaken and aligned this with some configuration of the CRM. This work paid huge dividends in productivity and we have a very happy and very successful relationship builder.

This has not solved the sales role requirements fully. For the next 3-5 months, my client will be introduced to prospects late in the sales cycle and execute the close and negotiate the agreements. We have set a revenue goal, at which point we will recruit a sales person with the needed behavioural competencies to close deals and work in partnership with the existing person working on client relationships.