Tag: Employee Motivation

9 Low-Cost and No-Cost Ideas for Motivating Employees

by Jeanne Knutzen | November 21, 2014

0 Blog, Human Resource Roles Coaching Employees, Employee Motivation, Job Shadow Program, Mentoring Programs Work Place, Val Grubb, Valerie Grubb

By Valerie Grubb Managing employees can be one of the most challenging–and also most rewarding–responsibilities as you move up within a company. When your management works and you see your employees surpass even their own expectations, it's wildly exciting and incredibly fulfilling! If you're new to managing employees – the great news is that you don't need a big budget to inspire your employees. The strategies listed below can help you motivate and engage your employees, even under the tightest financial constraints. 1) Provide Interesting Work Management theorist Frederick Herzberg once said, "If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do." So give your employees good jobs by making sure that at least part of their responsibilities includes something of great interest to them. Even for those jobs that are inherently boring, having at least one or two stimulating projects can motivate employees to perform well in the mundane tasks, too. Recommend your employee to a new task force your CEO is forming, for example, or let him or her take the lead at your next staff meeting. Find out your employee's career aspirations, then identify assignments that will expand his or her skill set in the desired direction. The increased productivity you gain by providing interesting projects beyond the day-to-day tasks will more than compensate for the time your employees are away from their regular jobs. 2) Require Managers to Coach and Develop This strategy may sound like a no-brainer. But it bears repeating, because we all know managers who are slackers when it comes to coaching and developing their employees–and in these uncertain times, employees need feedback more than ever. Remember, employees join companies, but they leave managers. So hold your managers accountable for coaching employees to achieve outstanding results and developing their staff through mentoring and training opportunities (see the next two bullet points). If they aren't fulfilling those responsibilities, replace them with people who will. 3) Establish a Mentoring Program Seventy-one percent of Fortune 500 companies offer mentoring programs to their employees. Why? Because those companies recognize that such programs bring a multitude of benefits to both protégé and mentor. Mentoring employees (especially new hires) can lead to better retention while mentoring aspiring talent can form the cornerstone of succession planning. Mentoring programs traditionally pair a junior employee with a more experienced colleague, but there's no need to stick only to this format. Reverse mentoring, for example, can help senior executives keep up with cutting-edge technology and with company issues that are usually only on the radar of junior staff. Group or situational mentoring is also on the rise for issues such as diversity or high-potential training. And if your company doesn't have a formal program, create your own! Establish mentoring relationships for your employees by tapping fellow executives (and agree to mentor their employees in return). 4) Train Your Employees Training doesn't have to cost money. No-cost and low-cost internal training options include:

  • Establish a job-shadowing program – even if you're the executive your employee is shadowing! Allow your high potentials to gain exposure to senior executives through the projects on your plate.
  • Arrange for monthly luncheons with your top executives whereby they can interact and ask questions.
  • Allow your employees to represent the company at a public function (charity fundraiser, sporting event, etc.), teaching them the responsibilities when in front of clients.
  • Expose employees to organizations with relationships to yours (e.g., visit a vendor, take a trip to customer's site).
  • Rotate employees into areas in which they need to improve their skills or gain exposure for continued growth.
  • Invite employees to spearhead projects in areas where they need improvement.
  • Read case studies and books on issues that are relevant to your organization, and discuss with fellow executives. (Be sure to find out what books your CEO recommends!)
  • Encourage employees to volunteer for industry organizations where they can develop leadership and management opportunities. Local non-profit groups, school organizations, or community-based programs may also be an option.
5) Roll Out Financial Training All employees need to understand how your company makes money, how individual department budgets connect to the organization's products and services, and how all that information describes the company's financial health. Unfortunately, most employees (including some senior leaders) are woefully ignorant in this area. So have your HR and finance departments team up to teach classes on budgeting and its connection to your company's financial well-being. By teaching fiscal responsibility, you'll soon have employees identifying cost-cutting measures, because they'll be as eager as your CFO to save the money and improve the company's finances. 6) Invite Involvement and Ownership in Decisions Most companies don't prioritize involving employees in decisions that affect them. Perhaps it's time to reconsider that practice, though. Keeping employees in the loop is not only respectful, but it's also practical: people who are closest to a situation typically have the best insight on how to improve it. Employees on the ground floor of an issue often know what works (and what doesn't) and can provide valuable insight into how to resolve the issue quickly and effectively. In addition, employees who have a hand in crafting a solution are more invested in working toward its success. 7) Increase Visibility and Opportunity Motivate employees by recognizing when their performance goes above and beyond. You can do this through publicly crediting them for their work, for example, or by giving them new assignments or additional responsibilities. Keep in mind, however, the first strategy in this list: make sure those additional responsibilities are of interest or value to the employee. (After all, having to deal with even more mundane tasks isn't the reward most people are looking for.) Remember, you get what you reward. 8) Provide autonomy Employees value the freedom to do their jobs as they see fit. So if your employees are able to get their jobs done (and done well) on their own, leave them alone! When you give high-performing employees more autonomy, you increase the likelihood that those employees will continue to perform as desired. Even with new recruits who haven't yet proven themselves in your company, you can provide autonomy in work assignments by telling those employees what needs to be done without dictating exactly how to do it. 9) Train your Managers to Provide Greater Recognition A 2012 Bersin & Associates study indicates that, compared to companies without recognition programs, those organizations that do have such initiatives enjoy 14% higher employee engagement, productivity, and customer service and 31% fewer voluntary turnovers. So tout the accomplishments of employees–and require your managers to do the same. And if your company doesn't already have a formal recognition program, perhaps now is the time to push for one. Next Steps Even if you do have a big budget, simply throwing money around rarely creates a more engaged and motivated workforce. Don't get me wrong–if your employees are underpaid, money is the first step toward making them happier and more valuable members of your organization. But if you really want to engage them, you need to think beyond the paycheck. Many employees work longer than an eight-hour day because that's what it takes to get the job done, but all of us probably know people who put in the extra time and effort because they are totally committed to their company (or have a passion for a particular volunteer organization or cause). They have this drive in large part because they're getting more than a paycheck. There's something that motivates them to go above and beyond–and with the strategies outlined here, you can cultivate a similar commitment and drive in your own employees! Valerie Grubb of Val Grubb & Associates Ltd. (www.valgrubbandassociates.com) is an innovative and visionary operations leader with an exceptional ability to zero in on the systems, processes, and personnel issues that can hamper a company's growth. Grubb regularly consults for mid-range companies wishing to expand and larger companies seeking efficiencies in back-office operations. Her expertise and vibrant style are also in constant demand for corporate training classes and seminars. She can be reached at vgrubb@valgrubbandassociates.com.

How to “Do” Employee Engagement – Not Just Talk About It!

by Jeanne Knutzen | September 2, 2014

0 Blog, Recruiting. Best Practices Employee Appreciation, Employee Engagement, Employee Leadership, Employee Motivation, Fierce Inc., Halley Bock, Leadership

The following article was written by our good friend and professional colleague, Halley Bock, CEO of Fierce Inc. Fierce is a world class leadership training and development company headquartered in Pioneer Square, Seattle, Washington, but with clients working with Fierce leadership concepts all over the globe.  This particular piece appeared in a recent Fierce newsletter, but was originally posted on TrainingMagazine.com. We thought our readers and other friends of PSN would benefit from reading about simple, hands on ways to engage employees in meaningful ways. Marbles Thanks to Gallup’s annual State of the American Workplace survey, we know that employee engagement statistics continue to fall short of expectations and what we know is possible for our companies and ourselves. The short and sweet of it is that only 30 percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged, with the actively disengaged costing our economy somewhere in the range of $450 billion to $500 billion per year. That’s a lot of dough to leave on the table and certainly nothing to pride ourselves on. And while so many managers are aware of this issue—we know we need our employees engaged and we can discuss this topic at great length—we don’t necessarily know how to do employee engagement. It remains a statistic we strive for: intangible, elusive, and ever increasing in importance. When it comes to employee engagement, three key trends have surfaced as the most critical for increasing and maintaining high levels of engagement: Candor, Collaboration, and Development. Big topics, yes. But when broken down, we begin to see how we can get our hands on the levers and actually do engagement. Candor According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, companies rated by their employees as being in the top quartile in openness of communication delivered an average total shareholder return of 7.9 percent over a recent 10-year period, compared with 2.1 percent at companies in other quartiles. According to another study by Corporate Executive Board, the key indicator most strongly correlated with 10-year returns is employees’ comfort in speaking up, even when they have negative things to say. Clearly, candor is important and explains why companies with higher engagement create more profit. Here’s how to do candor: Tell the truth, always. Corporate America continues to squander employee trust, be it through the housing crisis and subsequent collapse of the economy, or the recently revealed GM safety issues and subsequent recall. Little by little, lie after lie and deceit after deceit gets revealed to scores of innocent employees who unknowingly participated in massive schemes rooted in corruption, greed, and mendacity. The devastation to our livelihoods and trust is immense. The only viable way for organizations to regain trust is simple: Tell the truth and keep telling the truth. No. Matter. What. Avoid making excuses for employees, believing they are unable to handle the truth because the truth is, they can handle it. What they can’t handle are the lies and the “massaged” truths. By speaking the truth in a skillful way, employees can rise to the challenge and actively engage themselves in the solution. Ask for the truth, frequently. Candor is a two-way street—an unending feedback loop—that should be traveled often. As much as we deliver candid feedback (both positive and critical), ask for the same in return. No matter what a person’s title, we all have blind spots and could use a refreshing, outside perspective on what we’re doing well and what we could improve. Collaboration In our own survey, The Six Key Trends That Increase Employee Productivity and Engagement, 98 percent of respondents believe exploring other points of view improves decisions. Gallup found that engagement increases at all levels of tenure as employees continue to participate in focused initiatives to improve their engagement. Imagine that: engaging employees in their own engagement through collaborative means. Here are some ideas on how to do collaboration in a way that directly feeds into increasing engagement: Work the lattice, drop the ladder. The ongoing resilience and health of any organism, animate or inanimate, depends largely on its ability to withstand change. Structures that are able to weather these storms are typically well footed, with reinforcements that tie in both vertically and horizontally. Why we believe higher safety, stability, and success exist through creating siloed organizations remains a great mystery to me. Decisions made within a vacuum are dangerous as they are less informed and, therefore, run a higher risk of failure. When making decisions that affect a strategy, customers, and/or employees, take the time to seek multiple, diverse perspectives. Reach across the lattice of the entire organization, pull in insights that will create a better outcome, and strengthen engagement across the board. Create an engagement committee. As per Gallup’s own statistic, employees appreciate having a hand in creating and sustaining their own engagement. This explains why many firms with coveted top engagement levels have teams or committees focused solely on this initiative, or on being a “best place to work.” A company’s engagement culture is not something that can be managed from the top down. Culture is an outcome that results from the quality of relationships employees have with one another, with their company, and with their leaders. Because it is such a vast ocean and because engagement is created through different means for different people, it makes a heck of a lot of sense to create a cross-boundary committee to help guide this ship. By inviting employees in at the ground level we can increase engagement levels immediately. The upside only gets better from there. Development Individual development and the ability to make an impact on an organization is an increasingly hot topic for high potentials and Millennials. To pull another statistic from Gallup’s survey, Gen X and Baby Boomers are the least engaged, but Millennials are the most likely of all generations to leave their companies in the next 12 months if the job market improves. Why? Because they often feel road-blocked from reaching their full potential due to outdated development and promotion programs. These are typically programs that are blindly followed and have very little to do with the individual on the other end. Rather than do development on behalf of others, let’s involve employees so they can do development for themselves. Ask the questions, lose the assumptions. Another danger of living within the confines of a ladder, silo, or closed system is that we lose sight of all the possibilities and begin to view the world in a fairly one-dimensional way. We begin to assume that the only way to progress in a company is to go “up.” Or that it involves managing more people. Or that it means adding an “S” to the “VP” within a title. Or that it certainly must involve a merit increase. In short, we begin to make assumptions that may have a lot to do with our own values and experience but may have little or nothing to do with the individual sitting in front of us. Before envisioning a development path for employees and starting them down that journey, ask them how it is they see themselves growing within the organization. Put the onus on them to create a vision of their future and then develop a path that speaks to them. In essence, engage them in their own development right from the beginning. Challenge status quo. Gone are the days of applying one rule across multiple cases with the expectation that it will “hold water” for an extended time. The world, and thereby business, has become too dynamic and so have the generations of people we employ. To engage today’s workforce and meet their development needs, focus on individuals and their capabilities when assessing new opportunities. For example, revisit how quickly a high-performing employee potentially could make the jump from a junior to senior position. Does it really have to be after a two-year term or after having managed x number of projects or people? If employing a remote workforce is currently off-limits yet a top player requires this shift, lean into the possibility and seriously consider why this would not/could not work. Chances are, those fears are not based on reality and are tied to something else that needs to be challenged. Bottom line, when a top performer challenges your beliefs, rather than defend the policy or your stance, get curious with yourself and the employee. Genuine exploration into a juicy topic alongside any employee automatically will create engagement, and will do so no matter what the outcome. In summary, engagement requires engagement. There’s a lot of doing required—transforming this huge, amorphous topic into something tangible that we can act on. It won’t happen as a result of offering extravagant perks but comes through reinforcing each and every connection within an organization. Creating an intentional culture by focusing on candor, collaboration, and individualized development will put a company well on the path to achieving the statistics we all aspire to.