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Posts Tagged ‘Engagement’

Obama’s Diversity, Sir Robinson’s Organic Learning and Loving Work

In the one of the most recent issues of The Economist, it is reported that Barack Obama needs to start changing his attitude towards corporate America. For the most part, he is obviously not openly against big business, but many of his former supporters, CEOs and Executives, are now telling The Economist, they are dissatisfied with the job the president has done so far.  The main concern is that the president does not understand each Executives particular trade because he has never been in the private sector. On top of that, there is not one person on his staff that resembles someone that would represent or understand the private, corporate sector. These issues could come to the forefront of the political scene as the economy and unemployment have been major issues. I have a feeling that over the next several years we will see significant focus on the getting the economy on track and just at the right time, as this will be one of the major issues that could get Mr. Obama re-elected.

For CEOs and Executives managing large corporations, some things to watch out for are recent tax cuts and incentives to R & D.  In addition, a couple of strategic hires to the Obama team from the corporate world could start to add fuel to the fire that the economy, unemployment and focus on the US corporate agenda might be gaining importance.  In addition, an executive with significant international experience might also help to leverage an increase in exports and a focus on particular industries suitable for manufacturing in the US (job creation).  An international leader from the corporate world would also allow some strategic partnerships across borders that might increase our allies and positive relationships, especially with China, Brazil, India and Mexico, where so much of the corporate cross hairs are focused.

Diversifying Obama’s administrative team is easier said than done, obviously, and his political moves are well calculated when adding to the human capital of his administrative team.  In the TED talk below, you can see as Sir Ken Robinson adds that to get a diverse array of human resources, you can significantly add to the human capital of your team.  By creating the conditions in which the human resources flourish, you can have a talented pool of diverse skills.  These skills cultivated by the fact that the passion someone has for a job is what they have been doing their whole lives, simply because they love it.  Sir Ken Robinson talks extensively about how we organically educate young people, not only in the US but everywhere in the world.  The fast food chain model of standardizing the education system only stifles the potential growth.  More autonomy with some structure can allow people to flourish and finding that balance is tantamount to positive employee engagement.

The NOW management system allows for the diversity in the workplace and the autonomy to expand and discover new, unique and efficient ways to solve problems.  The NOW management system provides the structure and the conditions for any employee to grow organically by learning and solving problems on their own.  This allows for an increase in employee engagement because everyone can see the success and achievement.  The transparency and accountability leads to a new culture where the employees in a corporate environment are not just getting through the week, but are actively engaged in solving problems to eliminate inefficiencies, so they can focus on the growth of the company.


Defrosting The Fear Freezer

How to Get Rid of Fear as the Dominant Management Force?

The following article was written by John Bernard, Chairman and CEO of Mass Ingenuity. John is writing a book called Managing in the NOW that focuses on how to create a competitive advantage during the next business revolution. The Social Ecosystem is a critical part of making things happen, both NOW and in the future. That’s why we are all working closely with John Moore as he guides the evolving Social Ecosystem. I’ve worked with John for 8 years and he has a lot to say about management, leadership and the NOW System of Management. Here’s what John recently said about fear. We’d love to hear your thoughts too!

One of the nasty little realities of organizational life is that fear plays a predominant if not dominant role in controlling behavior. While it is tempting to say that fear is the natural order of things organizational, the reality is we pay a huge price by using it in terms of creativity and agility. Fear freezes our people’s creativity and engagement.

Deeply seated in our beliefs about the need for fear is a belief about the nature of human beings, a set of beliefs that are politically incorrect to mention. But if we are going to tackle fear, we need to get at why we use it, how we use it and what options do we have if we choose to move away from it.

The use of fear as the dominant force for guiding behavior is based on this belief: if our employees don’t fear job loss or some form of punishment, they will not do what we expect of them.

In more descriptive detail it looks like this:

  • If we don’t punish people for being late they will be late
  • If we don’t monitor their break time they will take advantage of us
  • If we let them take personal phone calls they will talk on the phone all day
  • If we let them surf the web they’ll spend the day on Facebook
  • If we don’t monitor their work they’ll do sloppy work
  • If we don’t stay on top of them they won’t get much done
  • If we let them talk to co-workers they’ll socialize all day long

To summarize, if we really believe fear is necessary to have a productive workforce, than we must believe that human beings are basically lazy, irresponsible creatures. Human nature is such that we can’t treat our employees like responsible adults, because they act like children.

You are probably bristling at this description and wanting to assure me that you are more enlightened than this. And the reality is you probably are.

I am not making this point as strongly as I am to try and put leaders down, I am saying it so painfully plainly because I think we need to reexamine how we lead and manage people.

Fear means we believe the people who work for us are not responsible adults, and yet evidence to the contrary is everywhere you look. I have met machinists who are scoutmasters, meter readers who are elders of their churches, pressmen who serve as county commissioners and letter carriers who are talented and prolific poets.

I am not saying there are not lazy people, because they are—but they represent a very small minority of our workforce. But the average every day worker in our organizations is anything but lazy. Follow them home and learn about their lives and you’ll find they’re great parents, reliable and generous neighbors, creative problem solvers and productive citizens.

If all this is true, then why do we use fear to drive behavior in our organizations? And why do even some of the best organizations still have a lot of fear in them?

Fear is a natural state in a world of hierarchy, in part because the people over us in our organization have one big, frightening stick: they can fire us and throw our lives into economic turmoil. So one driver of fear is our dependence upon our organizations for a paycheck that results in things we need: food, clothing, shelter, education, etc. This fear will always be there to some degree or another because we all worry about making ends meet.

But the other source of fear, the source we can address, is the fear created by how we run our organizations. Fear is driven by doubt. Doubt causes us to hesitate. When I don’t understand how things work I am at constant risk of stepping on an unsuspected landmine. That being the case, I keep my head down and don’t question things that don’t seem to make sense and I certainly would not make creative suggestions. I just do my job.

Fear based in doubt and confusion can be eliminated—or at the very least significantly reduced. And to be competitive, it’s essential we do everything we can to drive it out.

To eliminate fear, I suggest you make the following things VERY clear to everyone who works for you:

  1. Where the organization is going (it’s vision, goals, strategies)
  2. What you are counting on them to do (count means, measures that are clear)
  3. How to effectively solve problems they see (pick a common problem solving method and teach it to everyone)

We can never fully eliminate fear because it is part of the human condition, but we can defrost a huge portion of the fear freezer. That’s one of management’s most important jobs.

We pay a heavy price in terms of creativity and agility with fear, but we don’t have to if we remove the core doubts our people have about the organization and their role in it.


Why Are Your Employees So Disengaged?

It may strike you as odd that the one resource we all talk about as being our most valued is the one we seem least able to use effectively–our people. Long called the most valuable asset, our workforce remains shockingly disengaged, according to research by The Gallup Organization. Why when asked do 69 percent of workers in this country categorize themselves as disengaged—which we could easily expand into disinterested and perhaps disheartened?  And of those disenfranchised workers, according to Gallup, what is even more unnerving is 29 percent go further and are actually categorized as “actively disengaged.” That means they cause trouble.

So, let me slow down a minute.

An engaged worker is an employee who takes initiative without being asked to help, initiative that helps advance the organization toward its goals. Sounds like a good thing, right? That’s an understatement! According to Gallup, organizations with high levels of engagement out-earn their competitive peers by as much as 30 percent.

So why are these engaged characters so rare? And, where do we get ‘em?

Is it just human nature for people to go to work and not care about their organization’s success, or is there something else going on? If you believe, as do I, that it IS human nature to want to make a difference, to want to be part of something bigger than we are, to be creative and clever and helpful, then you know blaming the people who work for us is pointing the finger in the wrong direction. Our people come to work excited by the possibilities and slowly but surely they disengage. We all know the optimism that fuels our energy in a new job; we think, “this could be the thing I have been looking for, a job where I can make a difference.”

Why do people disengage? Let me know what you think!

If you would like the full text of this article please drop me a note.


Is It A Winning Combination?!

Beware the shiny object. The appeal of the bright new toy is impossible to resist.

Managers have longed searched for that one thing they need to do that will engage their people, transforming the business and creating the ultimate sustainable competitive advantage. We’ve all read the endless stream of books and through them dreamed of a better way. Who hasn’t tried process improvement, scorecards, lean, six sigma, teamwork, personality styles testing, change management and, of course, the power of the new twist on leadership? Well executed, all of these ideas contribute to better performance. With the plethora of information available, our successes in the world of management and leadership should be clear. Right?

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Face to Face – Watch This Video from John Moore!

Watch this video!  Excellent point indeed! Face to face relationships with customers, employees, strategic partners etc will always play a vital role. Social media can and does help with “connecting” and to some extend “engaging” with folks. It’s still just a tool in the arsenal, not the end game.

The Oldest Social Network


“Engage To Win” … It’s Mass Ingenuity!

As the name implies, the focus is on creating business ingenuity on a large scale, through a visual system called the Mass Ingenuity System of Management. It creates a sustainable performance edge for organizations by tapping into human nature and creativity.

As businesses are starting to recover from the largest economic crisis of our lifetime, their leaders are struggling to achieve stability, growth and a competitive edge. To achieve these goals, leaders must tap every available resource. The greatest under-utilized resource is their employees. To make matters worse, employee engagement is at an all time low and the loss of key talent is likely to increase. Unless these conditions change, businesses will not be competitive and they will not grow.

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What Do We Need A Management System For?

An effective management system is designed to help organizations take conscious control of the reins of their organization. A sound system designed to engage employees is the first step in creating extraordinary performance. It also forms the essential architecture needed to engage employees by providing a direct line-of-sight between the organization’s goals and the individual’s contribution. The process of creating the map facilitates agreement by an organization’s management team as to exactly how they will run their business.

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Giving Constructive Feedback

What is the most difficult part of giving constructive feedback?  Delivering it so that the recipient actually hears, understands and acts on the feedback.

There are three key techniques to enable someone to hear and act on your feedback:

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Your Employees Have Bad Ideas

Experienced managers show doubt in their faces when they hear it said that employees have good ideas. Often, the suggestions for improvement workers offer their bosses are not well reasoned or fully developed—and some are just plain stupid.  Employees are just not that smart.

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Engaging Employees

Great people build great products and services.  Yet, great people can only do this if they are highly engaged.  Engaging employees is about connecting them emotionally and intellectually to the importance of their job, team and company.  This is one of the most important aspects of a manager’s job.

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