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Posts Tagged ‘Employee Engagement’


An employee hands his resignation into his manager. The boss is surprised and disappointed. This guy was his best worker. He thought he was really engaged and had high hopes for him. When he asks his departing employee why he is leaving the company, the employee simply states he received a better opportunity from someone else.

What really happened? Do engaged employees really quit their jobs to pursue better opportunities? No they don’t. Being an engaged employee means being very committed to what you are doing with your current employer. It means your work is challenging enough, you are comfortable with the corporate culture, you feel like you are a part of the greater vision and you are making a measurable difference. Engaged employees do not quit. Not ever. It is only when they become disillusioned, frustrated, fearful, or experience some other negative emotion that they become disengaged and then quit “for a better opportunity”. That phrase, “a better opportunity” is really a euphemism for, “you suck”.

So what were the game changing moves that caused your precious employee to become disengaged? It is really important to ask yourself what went wrong. When you lose employees, you need to take it personally, because it is personal. They may not hate you as a person, but you somehow failed them from a management perspective and you will continue to lose employees if you do not reflect on the real circumstances of their departure.

Reflecting on the circumstances will allow you to get to the real issue. Don’t blow off the excuses. Drill down and find the truth you need to see. The employee will never tell you the whole truth, so you need to put your thinking cap on and drop your ego into the garbage bin. If they tell you they need more money, for example, they are more likely telling you they feel taken advantage of (money is rarely, if ever an issue for engaged employees). You need to then ask yourself why they would feel taken advantage of. What did you do to make them feel that way?

Taking the time to reflect on your failings as a leader will allow you to improve your skills. Asking yourself what you could have done differently and remodelling your style, so to speak, will give you better results as you endeavour to keep employee engagement at a high level.

Here are some of the real reasons people become disengaged and quit their jobs:
1. Something damaged the relationship between the manager and the employee
2. Doesn’t fit in with co-workers
3. Feels their job may be in jeopardy
4. Feels taken advantage of
5. Feels unsupported
6. Feels unappreciated
7. Confused about expectations
8. Embarrassed by performance of co-workers/company (lots of mistakes and angry customers)
9. Lack of equipment needed to perform quality work
10. No future opportunities for advancement or improvement
11. Negative corporate culture
12. Bored with tasks (work feels meaningless and unchallenging)
13. Personal values conflict with corporate values or scope of job
14. Life changes (spouse gets transfer, illness, etc)
Except for number 14, all of the above mentioned reasons can be dealt with before employees decide to quit. Communication is the key. Building rapport with your employees and fostering an environment of trust, excellence, respect and integrity will help you a lot.

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I had a book signing event at a prominent book store on the weekend. Since I am an author and an employee engagement specialist, I asked one of the store’s managers if he was interested in business leadership books. His response to me was that he was not interested in developing his leadership skills and that he just punches the clock and does what he is told. Later, when I was leaving, I stopped by his office to say good bye and he was chewing out one of his staff for goofing off while someone was on break.

So there he is; another disengaged manager trying to engage his employees by yelling at them for being disengaged. Good grief! Here’s a news flash: You cannot engage employees if you are not engaged yourself! Your attitude is contagious. If you are enthusiastic and interested in what you are doing, then your people will be more likely to embrace your enthusiasm as you try to connect with them on a human level. If you are barely interested in your work and “punch the clock” then don’t expect much more from your employees. Your disinterest is the model of behaviour they are following!

When I left the store, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of company would even want a guy like that on their payroll. Are they so desperate for managers that they have to resort to hiring people who have no drive, or is that hiring manager just as disengaged as he is? Hmm. Something to ponder…

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I regularly play a training game with my clients, which demonstrates the power of positive feedback. I divide the workshop participants into three groups and assign three leaders. The object of the game is to toss a penny against the wall and have it land on a strip of masking tape placed about two feet from the wall. The leader of each team is given a separate set of instructions which must be kept secret. One leader is to give only positive feedback to their team mates, and should continually offer encouragement by saying things like. “Good try.” “Nice technique”, etc. The second team leader is to say nothing at all. He must allow the players to just toss away pennies and make no comments of any kind. The third leader is instructed to give only negative feedback. He must make comments like, “That’s terrible!” “What are you doing?” “You suck,” etc.

I have to say that every time I play this game, the results are always the same. The team who gets positive feedback always manages to get the most pennies on the tape. The team who gets no feedback does much worse, and the team that receives only negative feedback gets the worst score of all. Interestingly, that team tries really hard to win. They support each other and offer encouragement to each other. They shut out the team leader completely, physically blocking his view of their performance. They do this every single time! It’s fascinating, and people do this at work all the time.

Think about your experiences with negative managers. How did you and your co-workers cope? Did you all gang up and complain about him/her whenever you had the chance? Were there things you tried to keep your boss from seeing? How can you use what you know about motivation to build the power of your team?

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Let’s face it. We live in a world of rapid communication and that communication can make or break your business. Potential employees can surf the internet to find out what employees think of the companies they work for or have worked for in the past. Potential customers can view customer service complaints on millions of websites to see what experiences others have had with your company. A simple Google search could reveal a ton of information about your business that may not be favourable at all.

In spite of all of this, I am continually mystified by the reluctance of many companies to actively try to engage their employees and their customers. How can they not accept the reality that the world has changed and that corporations are no longer as powerful as they used to be? The days of being able to hide your problems from the public are long over and it simply doesn’t pay to live in denial!

An engaged workforce will at least triple your current bottom line results so it is well worth your while to invest in leadership and employee development programs and to concentrate on building an engaged corporate culture. Failing to do so means your business results will only be about 29% of what they could be. That is because on average, only 29% of employees are engaged and they are carrying the results of your entire company. The remaining 71% of your employees are dragging you down and since this condition is reversible, it makes good business sense to work on increasing employee engagement!

I understand that soft skills training is often seen as being a nice thing to do, if you can afford it, but the fact is a good training professional will be able to tie training to solid business results. It really is not fluff and if your employees are like those in most companies, you truly cannot afford to let developing your employees become a low priority.

I have seen what’s out there and I know why we training professionals get a bad rap. It’s because there was a time when less than competent people thought they could cash in on the gravy train when companies had money to spend. They produced nothing, held no one accountable, took away a cheque and drove off in their Beemers. Meanwhile everyone who participated in the sessions went back to their old habits and nothing really changed for the business.

Sadly, those guys are still out there and they still get business from those who have a poor point of reference. They look super slick and act like they’ve got the world by the tail, but they are not true professionals. Look for training that is focussed on achieving results and comes with a guarantee. In my opinion, anyone in my profession who is not willing to stand by their work isn’t worth hiring.

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Empowerment isn’t about letting your employees run amuck. It is about giving people the tools and the trust they need to make decisions that are helpful to the business. It is also about allowing them to use their creativity to find answers and take your business to new heights.

To empower your people you must first make sure everyone has lots of information. Share everything. You cannot expect great results when people don’t have a complete understanding of the business, so share the good, the bad and the ugly. Besides, withholding information creates mistrust, and no team can function effectively where there is an absence of trust.

If you want to learn more about how to empower yor employees, check out my book, Engaged for Growth. It’s a small book, but it’s packed with powerful information!

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Something very important is missing in our busy lives. In fact, its absence is a pretty common occurrence nowadays. We all get so caught up in our day to day rush we frequently forget to acknowledge the efforts people make in our favour.  Remember the magic word your mother taught you to say whenever someone gave you something or did something special for you? Thank you. It’s simple, isn’t it? You can say it out loud; you can write it in an email or include it in a memo. You can say it while you are walking in or out of a room, or you can pick up the phone and make a special effort to thank someone for their consideration, kindness, effort, favour, etc.  It isn’t that hard, really, and it isn’t even that inconvenient to take the time to do it. Believe me, it isn’t.

Those two words are so powerful they can completely change the emotional temperature of a room. They are so powerful they can instantly make people want to do more for you. A little appreciation goes an awfully long way.

Say thank you to your employees who come to work every day. They could have chosen to fake sick and stay home. Say thank you to your customers who give you their money. They could have chosen to give it to your competitor, or just hang onto it. Say thank you to sales reps that take the time out of their busy day to make sure you have samples and little freebies to try out. They could have just not bothered. Say thank you to your boss who keeps you working. Say thank you to your significant other for being so sweet. Thank your friends, relatives and neighbours, just because they said or did something that made you feel good.

People make efforts on our behalf all the time. Take the time to notice and acknowledge the contributions that are made. No kind act is too small to be allowed to go unnoticed. Make a call, send an email, say thank you and be grateful for all you have been given.

By the way, thank you for reading this. I really appreciate your interest.

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I am so proud and happy to report that my new book, Engaged for Growth is getting top ratings from Indigo shoppers. Feel free to check out the listing, make a purchase and post a comment for the world to see. The book is a quick read and is meant to give the reader the most important things they need to know to get their people engaged at work. http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Engaged-for-Growth-Ren%c3%a9e-Cormier/9781897453285-item.html?ref=Search+Books%3a+%2527renee+cormier%2527

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