Friday, 25 November 2011

Gaining Committment from your Employees

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People International

It is clear to me that even though the world of business in the UK is facing tough times at the moment, it is no longer feasible for an organisation to demand commitment, motivation and respect from their employees. The range of choice facing people these days is endless – hundreds of different careers are possible, and likewise there are many different routes into each career too. These days, most people have a much greater choice about where they work, how they work and who they work for. The impact of this on an organisation is that if employees feel that they are being taken for granted or not being engaged usefully, they have the very real option of seeking employment elsewhere.

So what should organisations and individual managers do? Here are some of my thoughts …

I find that some organisations try to ‘buy’ commitment by paying huge salaries and big bonuses, believing that is the best way to motivate and retain their top staff. But while money is a necessity, and while I definitely want to be paid a fair wage for a day’s work, is it really the way to build a long commitment to an organisation? While bonuses may briefly improve my morale, they really only provide a short term motivational effect and are often soon forgotten. If you believe that money is a big motivator, ask yourself this simple question – if you were paid twice as much, would you (or indeed could you) work twice as hard? I know that I couldn’t work any harder than I already do, and would probably be offended by the insinuation that I could!

I notice that other organisations believe that the best way to keep staff motivated is through a social calendar of staff parties, off site team building events and regular gatherings. However, for those that already work long hours, for those (like me) to whom shyness can be a barrier, or for those (again like me) with numerous outside interests already, this social calendar can take them still further away from their family, home life, other interests and indeed their comfort zone. I would be very upset if as a shy yet accomplished member of a team, I continually missed out on opportunities within the work place due to my discomfort at social events.

I think that the truth of the matter is that many new employees are filled with anticipation and excitement on starting their new job, but then have all their interest and motivation squashed by managers and organisations failing to understand basic human motivations. Thinking further from this, I have identified a number of common themes about how to keep staff motivated and committed at work. The organisations that have the most committed staff are where their managers:

* Are clear about what they expect from their staff.
* Uphold themselves as a role model, and are consistent in behaviour.
* Support their staff to learn and develop transferable skills.
* Trust their staff to do their job by delegating and giving them the freedom to make their own decisions (within guidelines).
* Involve their staff in decisions that affect them.
* Listen and pay attention to what their staff say.
* Respond flexibly to the needs of their staff.

So what does this have to do with Management Training and Development? I do not believe it is a coincidence that organisations which invest heavily in Management Training and Development in general have greater levels of cooperation and commitment from their staff. I think it is important to recognise that the skills needed to motivate others effectively can be readily learned and developed through the right management training and development.

Those organisations that do not take the necessary time and effort to train and develop their managers are likely to experience:

* High occurrences of absenteeism, which can be either stress-related or general.
* Poor communication.
* Too many meetings and a decision-making process that is always too slow.
* A general lack of trust and co-operation.
* Managers and staff acting politically for their own personal gain rather than the success of the organisation.
* Unexplained changes to strategy and direction.
* Staff that are generally disengaged with their role, and as a result are just trawling through their day on a ‘9 to 5’ basis.

Organisations should stop simply expecting employee commitment, and should start investing in the training and development of their managers. Ultimately, I believe that building a successful business or organisation relies on motivated and committed employees who will ‘go the extra mile’. I would do for my employer – would you?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Leadership - A Question of Influence

by Mark Evenden

In essence leadership is about taking others to places they have not been before. However, to lead successfully you also have to influence others to gain their commitment and engagement to the direction you believe is right.

Many researchers have pointed out that influence can be seen as working on a number of levels, which I have found as a useful insight when thinking about influencing others. Clearly the most fundamental level of influence is around what you tell other people, but it also about the relationship you have with them as well as how you are seen to act and behave.

As I stated above, the most fundamental level of influence is around what you say to other people. Here are some hints and tips I find useful for this level of influence:

* When attempting to influence timing is key – set yourself up for success, there is no point attempting to influence some one when they are emotionally tired, upset or angry.

* It may sound obvious but make sure you truly believe in what you are saying?

* Examine you body language – does it support what you say?

* Be clear with others what your expectations are. These may also include the consequences for not meeting your expectations.

* Take time to explain what you expect and talk through your differences with them.

The next level of influence is around the relationships you have with other people. It may sound obvious but you are more likely to influence those that you have an understanding, respectful and trusting relationship with. Here are some hints and tips I find useful for this level of influence:

* Do you assume the best in other people? If I think someone is a fool I am likely to treat them as one, so beware of your thoughts.

* Genuinely seek to understand the other person before you give them instruction or advice.

* Make sure that you respond to others in a way that demonstrates understanding of their position and concerns.

* If offended take the initiative to clear it up. It is likely that the relationship is far more important than being ‘right’.

* If you make a mistake, admit it and apologise, it shows you are human.

* Make sure you are influenced by others first. Reciprocation is a powerful influencing tool.

* Make sure you keep your promises. Do not make promises you know you will not keep or have difficulty keeping.

The highest level of influence is around who you are and how you act. Other people will be far more influenced by what you do that what you say. Here are some hints and tips I find useful for this level of influence:

* Make sure you lead by example (i.e. do what you say).

* Refrain from criticising others publicly. If you need to give feedback, do it behind closed doors.

* Be a model of restraint and demonstrate emotional self control.

* Be patient with others. Patience is a practical demonstration of faith in and respect for others.

* Don’t blame others - focus on what you can do to make the difference, not what others need to do.

I believe that the most effective leaders and influencers work on all three levels at the same time. Being a perfect role model and having good relationships will not be sufficient if you don’t explain to people what you expect. Conversely, people will soon loose faith in what you say if you do not live by your word, no matter how good your relationship is with them.