Posts Tagged Motivation

Measure these Five Areas to Focus Your Engagement Efforts

Strategy business concept with magnifying glassOrganizations and agencies of all sizes hope to create a work environment where people perform at a high level, go above and beyond when needed, stay with and endorse the organization as a good place to work, and act as good organizational citizens. But are leaders in these organizations actively measuring employee perceptions and dealing with low scores as they are discovered?

In a new article for Chief Learning Officer researchers at The Ken Blanchard Companies recommend leaders measure employee work intentions in five key areas to focus their efforts: Discretionary Effort, Intent to Perform, Intent to Endorse, Intent to Remain, and Organizational Citizenship

Discretionary Effort: The Blanchard research shows that people are more apt to go the extra mile when they have autonomy and variety in their role. Peer relationships also influence discretionary effort. The more connected an individual is to his or her colleagues, the more likely he or she is to expend extra energy on behalf of the organization. People feel good about working extra hard when they believe the organization they are working for treats them fairly.

Intent to Perform: Blanchard data shows the more that people feel their jobs contain variety and include more than routine tasks, the greater their intention is to perform at a high level. Autonomy also plays a large role in performance intentions because people feel the need to have the freedom to decide how their tasks are performed and the authority to do their jobs.

Intent to Endorse: Blanchard research also identified that fairness in the work environment influences an individual’s willingness to endorse the organization as a good place to work and to recommend it to their family, friends, and potential customers. Most people also have a need to feel support for both their job and career growth. Autonomy also has influence on the intent to perform.

Intent to Remain: The Blanchard data indicated that the intent to stay with an organization is a statement of confidence in leadership as well as the organization. Lack of growth opportunities, fair benefits, and adequate pay cause intent to stay to diminish over time.

Organizational Citizenship: The Blanchard research also found that individuals who feel more highly connected to their colleagues and see their workplace as collaborative tend to focus more on the welfare of the organization. This connection is due to the concepts of sportsmanship, fair play, and taking care of others.

6 Recommendations for Leaders

Are you creating the type of environment that encourages your best people to stay and perform at high levels? The Blanchard researchers share six ways to get started drawing from their studies into 12 Employee Work Passion Factors.

Increase Task Variety. Scores on all five key intentions improve when employees have a variety in type and complexity of tasks

Provide Meaningful Work. Communicating vision, the value of an employee’s contribution to the organization, and the organization’s contribution to the community are important to people, and can influence intentions to Remain, Perform at a High Level, Endorse, and Engage in Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

Promote Procedural Fairness. Apply policies and procedures fairly to all employees to improve intentions to Perform, Remain, and Apply Discretionary Effort

Increase Autonomy. Allow people flexibility in how they accomplish their work and approach their jobs to improve intentions to Apply Discretionary Effort, Perform at a High Level, and Engage in Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

Encourage Employee Connections. Foster the development of personal and professional relationships among employees to influence the intention to Apply Discretionary Effort and Engage in Organizational Citizenship Behaviors

Offer Job and Career Growth Opportunities and Exhibit Distributive Fairness. Make sure compensation and distribution of resources are fair to improve employees’ Intention to Remain

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3 Ways to Create a More Inclusive Work Environment

Businesswoman Working At Desk With Meeting In BackgroundPeople don’t show up to work as robots—they are human beings with hearts, minds, and feelings. Today’s leaders must be adept at recognizing and embracing psychological needs, especially as they relate to performance and engagement.

How do leaders accomplish this? The answer can be found in the latest research on employee work passion and the factors that contribute to it

It is a given that employees are motivated in some way. Their motivation might not always align with desired behavior and outcomes, but it is there. To channel employee energy toward larger agency goals, leaders have to embrace tools and techniques that address common needs that people bring to any work environment, including desires for collaboration, connectedness, and an opportunity to influence decisions that impact their work.

Here are three ways to get started:

  1. Include employees in the planning process. Seek employee perspectives on how to execute agency mission. For instance, how can administrators include front line personnel in developing customer care strategies?
  1. Ask people for their opinion. Doing so in a genuine way is an easy, no cost way to create passion and a sense of ownership toward the success of any initiative.
  1. Share information. Sharing senior leaders’ viewpoints as well as progress toward objectives is another low cost method that promotes inclusion.

Individuals are more committed when they know and have some say in the direction of the agency. Think of it this way: would you like to be told where you will spend your vacation, or would you prefer to be given options, information on each option, and a chance to participate in the decision process?

Information and a corresponding participatory process create more commitment, engagement, and passion than a directive decision process. By considering ways to increase inclusiveness, collaboration, and connectedness, leaders can take their first steps toward creating a more passionate and engaging work environment for their people.

For more information (and access to research) on how The Ken Blanchard Companies helps agency leaders develop motivational strategies that directly support employee work passion, please visit www.kenblanchard.com/

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Moving from Employee Engagement to Employee Work Passion: 3 Key Ideas and Resources to Help You Get Started

Next Level LeadershipOnce an individual in an official manager role recognizes there is more to do than simply manage the activity of others, a great opportunity exists to take leadership to a next level—by creating employee work passion.

While often seen as comparable to the generic idea of employee engagement, employee work passion is actually a carefully identified construct. It is about leaders creating a work environment where direct reports perform at a high level, apply discretionary effort as needed, stay with an organization, recommend the organization to others, and act as good corporate citizens. This is an important distinction and one that has garnered The Ken Blanchard Companies recent awards for excellence in research and cutting edge application.*

Blanchard’s core research has identified 12 work environment factors that lead to intentions by employees to perform in a positive manner. The research has also identified the individual process employees go through in determining whether any specific work environment is deserving of their best efforts. This is the missing ingredient in so many of today’s engagement initiatives—and a major reason for the lack of improvement after their implementation.

Leaders looking to improve engagement scores in their organizations can learn from Blanchard’s research findings. Here are three key takeaways.

  1. Evaluate your present work environment. Review Blanchard’s 12 Employee Work Passion Factors. Consider what you could do as a leader to enhance your work environment in each area. If you are a senior leader, think about how your agency promotes and supports larger culture initiatives and how leadership training can develop and support leaders at all levels.
  2. Understand the personal nature of employee engagement. Recognize ways that each employee is unique. Engage in conversations with employees about their experiences in each of the 12 areas. Take the time to learn more about individual work styles, the manner in which direct reports choose to receive feedback, and how they prefer to be supported in the completion of work activities. Adjust as necessary.
  3. See leadership as a partnership. Work together with employees to make necessary changes. The good news is that partnering with them will signal that you value their agenda as much as your own. This alone will help build connectedness, credibility, respect and commitment. People who perceive their manager to be “others-focused” tend to score higher in each of the employee work passion intentions.

Employees appreciate working for a manager who has their best interests at heart. When managers value both results and people, they put the needs, desires, and effectiveness of their teams ahead of any personal agenda. Agency leadership must begin to acknowledge that how people feel about the way they are treated and managed is a key component to long-term success. This treatment is an integral part of the relationships that are established, built, and maintained by leaders at all levels.

For more information on improving employee work passion in your department or agency, be sure to download The Ken Blanchard Companies’ government-focused four page overview which looks specifically at increasing levels of employee work passion in a government agency setting. It’s available for immediate download at the government section of the Blanchard website. For complete access to all Blanchard research, please visit the Blanchard research archives.

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*Shuck, B., Ghosh, R., Zigarmi, D., and Nimon, K. 2013. “The Jingle Jangle of Employee Engagement: Further Exploration of the Emerging Construct and Implications for Workplace Learning and Performance.” Human Resource Development Review. Volume 14, issue 1, pages 11–35.

*Zigarmi, D., Nimon, K., Houson, D., Witt, D., and Diehl, J. 2012. “The Work Intention Inventory: Initial Evidence of Construct Validity.” Journal of Business Administration Research. Volume 1, issue 1, pages 13–23.

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Perceptions, Intentions, and Performance: 3 Focus Areas for Leaders

Do the positive or negative attitudes and intentions of an agency’s employees impact that agency’s ability to achieve its goals? The answer is yes, of course.

Research by The Ken Blanchard Companies shows that employees are constantly appraising their work experiences—and that their intent to stay, use discretionary effort, perform at a high level, endorse the organization, and be good organizational citizens translates into behaviors that can be positive or negative.

Employee intentions can also influence the opinions of others—especially in the case of a disgruntled employee who, through social media or other channels, expresses negative views. When that happens, one individual’s pessimistic attitude can shape the intentions of many other prospective employees, potentially resulting in their being negatively influenced about joining the federal government workforce.

Blanchard’s ongoing research into employee work passion has identified 12 factors that influence employee perceptions of whether or not a specific work environment is deserving of their loyalty and best effort. These factors can be grouped into three broad categories.

Job factors. These include Meaningful Work, Autonomy, Task Variety, and Workload Balance. This area should be fairly straightforward and achievable for government agencies. While much debate has existed about the size of the government workforce and corresponding budgets, there is minimal argument about the significance of the work. Individual autonomy—when earned—is in everyone’s best interest. Leaders need to learn how to empower and delegate while also having in place an appropriate check and balance system to prevent errors and catastrophic failures. Task variety is also important. Leaders should be well versed in how to minimize repetitive tasks when making assignments. Workload balance also needs to be factored in to avoid employee burnout.

Organizational factors. These address fairness—both Distributive Justice, having to do with pay, and Procedural Justice, which involves decision making. Performance Expectations and Growth opportunities are also under this category. Employees want to know that compensation and decision making are fair. Leaders can demonstrate fairness by ensuring that merit increases, career growth, and performance evaluation processes are as transparent as possible. Another important driver in this category is the degree to which information is shared. Leaders need to err on the side of openness whenever possible, to ensure there is a steady flow of information sharing.

Relationship factors. These look at how connected employees are with their colleagues and also with their leaders. This is basic leadership, and involves the degree to which leaders are visibly and actively connecting to their teams with regular communication. Many employees, especially those that are salaried, spend a majority of their waking hours working. Developing relationships is critical to creating a sense of Connectedness (both with Colleagues and Leader.) Feedback and Collaboration also play a role. Leaders can enhance a sense of connectedness by demonstrating an interest in their teams, encouraging collaboration, and providing feedback. This can be accomplished in a relatively simple way by inquiring about tasks at hand and their progress, discussing resources that might be needed to perform the work, and generating ideas for continuous improvement.

Perceptions, Intentions, and Performance

Don’t let negative employee intentions undermine your agency’s culture and performance. When leaders understand and act on employee perceptions and intentions, overall engagement and productivity will improve. To learn more about The Ken Blanchard Companies’ research in this area, and how this information has helped private and public sector clients develop leadership practices that foster positive employee intentions, visit Blanchard’s research page.

 

 

 

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Why Work? Moving from Compliance to Commitment

Diverse Business People on a MeetingWhy do people work?  Thinking beyond the basics (health insurance, income to meet obligations, etc.) is crucial for any agency leader looking to develop initiatives designed to improve engagement and productivity.

Asking why helps leaders identify ways to move from compliance to commitment.  When that occurs, individuals and teams will put forth extra effort to achieve desired outcomes, contribute to continuous improvement efforts, and anticipate actions that will prevent undesired consequences.

Here are three methods for sparking a vested interest in your agency’s mission and moving individuals beyond compliance. (And they don’t require any incremental costs beyond fiscal year budgets!)

  1. Give employees a voice.

When employees feel as if they have a voice in how things get done, a vested interest is created. This vested interest builds commitment and a desire to exercise discretionary effort.  Focus groups are a good place to start—they provide a forum for employees to respond to a basic framing question: “What’s working well and what’s not?”  Be sure to create a safe harbor of anonymity where employees know their ideas and constructive feedback will not be met with punishment.  Also, make sure that focus group ideas are acknowledged and acted upon.

  1. Use action learning projects.

Appoint teams to address potential solutions. In this context, requesting a team of individual contributors to explore options demonstrates that other views and opinions count and can make a difference. Moreover, individuals who normally do not work together can have an opportunity to collaborate and build connections across departments. A corresponding benefit is that the selection of individuals for these teams can be treated as a form of recognition.

  1. Create process improvement teams.

Launch a practice by which individuals can recommend changes. This practice will generate excitement about shaping agency practices and demonstrate that going beyond compliance can be rewarding. This is a place where a proven methodology such as Six Sigma can provide structure and a proven framework to ensure constructive channeling.

Empower Your People to Identify, Solve, and Recommend

When employees are asked to explore options, provide solutions, and recommend action steps, they become an extension of leadership and are increasingly engaged in agency decision making and success. Don’t miss the opportunity to inject a healthy dose of empowerment into your work environment. Give people an opportunity to contribute in ways beyond the basic need to work.  You’ll be surprised at the difference it can make in turning a compliance mentality into commitment.

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High Performance Cultures: The Role of Leadership

Senior Leader In Office With Her ColleaguesA true high performing culture provides an agency with its single greatest source of operational advantage and probability of achieving agency mission. It is no coincidence that the White House’s most recent budget contains language specifically connecting engagement to agency performance.

“…an employee’s investment in the mission of their organization is closely related to the organization’s overall performance. Engaged employees display greater dedication, persistence, and effort in their work, and better serve their customers—whether they are consumers or taxpayers.”

Appropriately, the 2016 budget for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) contains $66 million for leadership development, recognizing that agency leaders can enhance and leverage this expenditure by focusing on key areas such as:

Development of self. Individual contributors need to know how to provide feedback to their leaders, contribute to collaborative efforts, and constructively problem solve, and also must understand how agency values guide desired outcomes.

Development of first time leaders. Transitioning from an individual contributor to a leader of others is a critical shift.  More often than not, individuals making this transition have not had prior training and development in this regard.

Continuous improvement training. As leaders advance to more progressive and expanded levels of responsibility, additional training will improve the capacity to drive the necessary elements of culture into workforce behaviors and outcomes. This will be of vital importance as the quantity of direct reports and overall responsibility expands both horizontally and vertically.

Culture as the Glue to Performance

The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) contains several statements correlating culture and leadership to performance:

  • “I am constantly looking for ways to do my job better”
  • “I am held accountable for achieving results”
  • “Employees are recognized for providing high quality products and services”
  • “My agency is successful at accomplishing its mission”
  • “My supervisor listens to what I have to say”
  • “Managers promote communication among different work units” (For example, communication about projects, goals, needed resources, etc.)

This sampling of FEVS statements illustrates the importance culture plays in defining and driving performance. For example, questions about recognition highlight the importance of using agency values as a way to recognize desired behaviors that support the agency’s mission.

When cultures are well defined and preserved, there is a direct correlation to performance.  For leaders looking for ways to get started, here are six initial steps.

  1. Know what winning looks like. Agencies must define acceptable standards of performance and critical success factors, develop metrics to track progress, and embrace gap closure plans.
  1. Look outside as well as inside. While focusing on internal operations and policies is important, agencies must also adapt to external situations and influences to be a high performing organization.
  1. Think and act like an owner. Agency leadership must ensure that individuals at all levels take full responsibility for their behaviors and actions while embracing personal accountability for development and results.
  1. Commit to individuals. When investments are made to develop individuals and when performance is recognized, the workforce is engaged and committed to achieving maximum performance.
  1. Spread the courage to innovate. Maximum performance requires continuous improvement by developing systems for receiving input on how to enhance outcomes.
  1. Build trust through transparency. Performance is improved when the workforce understands leadership’s intent. When data about policy, direction, and performance is openly shared with healthy debate about decision making, a higher level of vested interest results.

To improve employee engagement and performance, focus on the large and small day-to-day ways your culture can be shaped.  And don’t underestimate the role leaders play in that equation.

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Public vs. Private Sector: The Big Five Elements of Effective Leadership and The Five Corresponding Outcomes

QuestionIs there a difference between private and public sector leadership development and practices? This is a timely question given the recent turbulence of global financial markets. The short answer is that leaders in both sectors, no matter the organization or agency, need to be sensitive to how they set the stage for success. In fact, it is leadership that drives organizations and agencies through change—whether the change is planned for or in response to market conditions.

There are five interconnected and common elements of effective leaders in both the public and private sector:

  1. Promoting open communication
  2. Supporting individuals
  3. Allocating resources
  4. Removing obstacles
  5. Sponsoring innovation

These elements must be embedded in the culture of an organization or agency to ensure successful fulfillment of the mission. Today’s operating environment is complex: the rapid rate of change, the instant availability of data, the pace of product innovation, and the global connectedness of people all require organizations and agencies to ensure the development of leaders. This development can range from identification of who has the potential to be a leader to refresher training, and is even more critical for those who are making the leap from individual contributor to first-time leader or from manager of a project to leader of people.

When an organization or agency addresses the five core leadership elements, there is a greater chance that:

  1. Ideas will flow from those who are on point for delivering to end users—customers in the private sector and constituents in the public sector.
  2. Employees will operate with enhanced passion, leading to an improvement in discretionary effort and a commitment to the organization’s or agency’s purpose.
  3. The right resources will be allocated to the places of highest impact with the least amount of cost. Employees will be better equipped to fulfill both their own and their organization’s or agency’s mission.
  4. Barriers to success will be removed, thus changing and improving processes so that information flows better, measures are in place that support key indicators, and gap closure is a reality.
  5. Because of rapid change and a constant stream of unpredictable events, an idea factory will be created that will support the need for continuous and necessary innovation and change.

When leadership capacity and development are not a part of standard work, there is a far greater risk of atrophy. In other words, leadership is fundamental to creating a strong and vibrant organization or agency just as daily diet and exercise is fundamental to sustaining healthy living and reducing medical costs.

In the end, there is no difference between the private and public sectors when it comes to the five core leadership capabilities and the five corresponding outcomes.

The Ken Blanchard Companies can help organizations and agencies build high performing leadership and change roadmaps to improve operational efficiency and mission effectiveness. Future blogs will address how to measure leadership development.

To learn more about the Blanchard approach, download Building the Capabilities to Lead Agile, People-Centered Companies in the 21st Century.  You can also check out other free resources and white papers in the research section of the Blanchard website.

 

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