Monday 16 September 2013

Fifth of seven fool-proof actions that guarantee increased employee engagement

The premise that must precede the actions

People are not numbers, overheads, expenses, resources, assets or capital. These are all a false premises that lead to less than possible results. We are all flesh and blood, alive human beings with needs, want, fears and aspirations. Any actions to increase employee engagement must be preceded by seeing and treating people as people.

Action number five - Be tough on problems, tender with people

An injustice is occurring in many workplaces today - people are seen as the problem. People are not your problem. People’s intentions, feelings, thinking, and behaviour are your challenge and also your great opportunity. 

Behaviour follows our thinking, feeling and intent. What your people are doing or not doing is why your results are what they are, good, bad, indifferent, what you want, or not what you want. 

Your only competitive advantage lies in what your people do that is different, better, or more unique than what what your competitors people are doing. Confusing what people do or don’t do with them as people though is a slippery slope to poor performance. If you want people to do better, differently or more uniquely, work with them to modify or change their intentions, feelings and thinking, and then their behaviour.

My wife and I recently brought our 5th puppy home. It’s been 15 years since we’ve had a pup run a muck in our home! Confusing what Molly does, particularly when it’s bad, with who she is though we know is the challenge we must overcome. 

We praise Molly with great enthusiasm when she does what we need her to do. We carefully reward her for good behaviour. She is learning very quickly. She knows we love her even when she doesn’t behave how we need her to.

We humans are no different when it comes to tasks. We respond in kind to enthusiasm and rewards when we do well. Of course we are motivated by deeper things, purpose, autonomy and mastery for example as Daniel Pink and others have beautifully demonstrated. The more the pursuit of these deeper things is enabled the more we behave at our best, and therefore the less negative problems we create.

Summary and action

If you want less negative problems in your workplace co-create with your people a culture where meaning is paramount and pursued with vigour.

When problems surface be careful to isolate the intention, feeling, thinking or behaviour from the person. Be tough on these yet tender with the person. The I’ve Got A Problem technique is a great way to do this. If you would like a copy of it please email me 

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

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