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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Make performance reviews an effective contributor to your organisation’s health. You can utilise features within the DOTS LMS to help you create and deliver performance reviews without the dread and and trepidation so often part of this business process.
- Don’t accept a 6 or 12 month review cycle as default. You can set the system for shorter periods for review meetings that may include some ‘course correction’, praise and recognition and re-focusing on new objectives.
- Create scales for your key result areas [objectives] that are clear and descriptive. You can create as many points in your scale and add as much text as you need to make the scale very descriptive. The more accurate your scale the less likely there will be ambiguity and misunderstandings during the review process.
- The same goes for your competency scales. There may be a number of competency frameworks operating in your organisation so make the scales as extensive and descriptive to meet the needs of your workforce.
- Encourage the use of the Development Planning module for post-review action plans. You can use both pre-set plans and enable custom plans for people with specific needs or ambitions. One of the biggest complaints about performance appraisals is the lack of follow up actions.
- Show managers how to enter interim notes into to review system. These notes ensure information, ideas and observations are collected in one place and available for the review meetings. Interim notes are a great way to ensure your people receive the recognition they deserve.
- Explore the use of the 360 Profiling module. Many clients are using the 360 module for their senior leadership and developing a range of assessment types. You can also use the 360 profile as a self-assessment tool that is a great re-enforcer for development and learning plans.
- You can assist managers by enabling other managers to ‘review the reviews.’ This is very effective as a coaching tool to help mangers improve their delivery of performance appraisals.
Performance reviews are often met with trepidation by both employees and their managers. This contributes to both a reluctance to conduct them and if they are conducted the quality of the experience and the follow up often destroys any good that could flow from this activity. We recommend that managers meet regularly with their team members and build performance coaching ‘all the time.’ When it comes to review time there will be less friction to having the conversations necessary to help your team to performance improvement.
If you would like some help setting up performance reviews in DOTS LMS, other systems or even on paper, we can help you out. For an initial discussion please get in touch.
In our business we have the pleasure of working with some very successful organisations and each has a culture that oozes high performance when you walk in their offices. You can see clues in the way people interact; looking at each other in the eyes, greeting people with their names, and well organised work spaces with personal touches. I am sure there are many factors that contribute to a performance culture but here are three factors that have been mentioned most often in my conversations.
1. Follow up and follow through. Sounds simple enough but one of the biggest killers of a performance culture is lack of follow up with other people. When leaders do not follow up it show a lack of care. As a leader people know you are busy but that does not forgive your lack of follow up. The lack of follow through is just as damaging. When a leader commits to something and it gets dropped or fades away the damage is serious. You lose trust when you do not follow through. Both lack of follow up and follow through are like a disease, when leaders exhibit these behaviours it creeps into an entire culture. Performance appraisals are one critical area that must never compromised by lack of follow up and follow through.
2. Person to person engagement. Managers need to meet with their teams as individuals and groups regularly. It is priority one and it needs to be scheduled and committed to. If a leader consistently cancels these meetings it sends the signal, ‘you are not important.’ A performance culture has a meeting rhythm and this flows to information sharing, communication, collaboration and often innovation. Some managers and leaders do not really know how to run effective meetings and these people need some coaching. In one client the change identified as being the biggest contributor to their culture is daily team meetings with a set agenda.
3. Learning is readily available and encouraged. Learning can be in many forms and it need not be expensive. For example, one client has brown bag learning sessions that are facilitated by fellow employees. Online learning is great and you can use your own content as well as find online courseware that can be delivered from your own LMS or via an online portal. Blended learning in a manager to employee coaching framework is one program that one of our clients has used to increase productivity and align activity with strategy more effectively. This program involves short online learning content, forms for applying learning and fortnightly coaching sessions with a direct or other manager.
These 3 factors were the top three mentioned in discussions with some of our clients. I am interested in learning about others that have been applied to create and sustain a performance culture.
The new range of learning modules we have released are getting a great deal of interest. These modules are designed to deliver competencies to learners with a short video introduction, step by step implementation guides and downloadable job aids.
Research has shown that 70% of development happens on the job and these courses are designed to leverage a more natural way of personal development. Since these content modules are short and include tools to implement the learning in the work environment they are highly suitable for blended delivery.
The Development Plan, Performance Management and Profiling modules in DOTS LMS are ideal for supporting the successful roll-out of these modules. The key is ensuring that the learning activities are supported by coaching and collaboration either individually or in groups.
Development Plans – include these modules as part of your Development Plans and assign them or enable your people to enrol in them out of interest or need. Your managers will be able to track progress and meet to discuss outcomes and the application of the learning.
Performance Appraisals can be used to ensure that one-to-one meetings occur in conjunction with the enrolments in these modules. You can include the competencies delivered by these modules in the Performance Appraisal module. Both the employee and the manager will be able to comment on experience and observation. This has proven a highly effective way to embed these competency based learning modules in an organisation and improve engagement with managers and employees focusing on ‘positives’ [learning & development] in a regular appraisal cycle.
The Profiling Tool in DOTS LMS helps you create as many profile as you need. In one case we developed a 360 Profile that included feedback on a large number of competencies included in the Project Management course catalog. We created both self-assessments and 360 profiles mapped to these competencies to provide some peer review.
If you would like to have a look at these learning content modules please get in touch and we can organise a pilot for you. If you decide to use these modules in your organisation we can help you implement their roll-out using one or all of the DOTS LMS modules mentioned in this blog.
The flexibility of DOTS makes it easy to manage your coaching and mentoring activities. There are a few ways to do this and I will go through some of the elements you can use to support coaching and mentoring programs. You can then explore these and see if they suit your requirements. If you would like to have an online session to explore these with a consultant then fire an email to use at firstname.lastname@example.org
The first tool we recommend using in preparation for a coaching program is eDisc. eDisc is a sophisticated online behavioural assessment tool that takes only minutes to complete and produces an extensive in-depth report. I have found that the increase of self- understanding for both the coach and the person being coached increases the effectiveness of the coaching program. This tool also serves as a cross check for any potential factors that will compromise the coaching and mentoring.
Inside DOTS LMS are the following tools I use in setting up coaching programs. These include:
- Courses and course sessions. Courses are a flexible tool in DOTS LMS that are perfect to set up a registration and tracking system that automates these processes. Courses also permits the assignment of a coach who can then use the trainer/coach tools to interact with others as well as capture notes and assessments relating to the coaching program. Course sessions include the option to permit persons to add sessions themselves so this is one option that will automate tracking if you wish to use it.
- Courses also provide a coach/mentor to create content to support their programs as well as include existing content and courseware to their programs as needed. This content may be as simple as a PowerPoint presentation or something more sophisticated.
- Development plans are perfect for maintaining and adding to a database of activities that may form part of the coaching program. The development plan tools will track actions by hours and therefore provide another way to automate the tracking of hours committed in direct coaching or actions relating to it.
- Libraries provide a knowledge repository that can be accessed by specific persons or groups of persons during a coaching program. It may be used to supply reference material of all types. Library access is permission based and linked to Reports so you can see who is accessing the Libraries and control access.
- 360 Profiling is one of the tools in the DOTS LMS that is growing in popularity. The DOTS LMS 360 permits the creation of any number of profiles question sets and the whole process is automated and secure. This is a great before and after tool for both peer and personal feedback.
- Competencies may be used to set up goals for the coaching program with the awarding of competencies being an outcome of a successful program. The competency tools in DOTS LMS permit the competencies used in a coaching program to co-exist with other competencies of any types.
- And last but not least there are Surveys. I like to use the survey tools to enable a person to report back on how they are applying new skills, knowledge or ideas that are generated from a coaching program. Surveys are fast to deploy and re-usable so you can standardise your coaching program measurement criteria.
There are other tools in DOTS LMS that help to support and manage coaching and mentoring programs. One of these is the interactive Performance Appraisal tools that automate and capture performance appraisals in a secure online environment.
If you are interested in a walk-through of some or all of these tools get in touch. We can show you some workflow processes that may help you design a solution suitable for your organisation.