"Employee engagement is the commitment that an individual makes to a company's vision, values and purpose and in turn, plays a vital role in creating a culture where everyone thrives."
~Imagemakers International 2014
"He just doesn't get it", he said. "If he would only take a moment to ask me for my feedback or at the very least, acknowledge what I do right rather than what I do wrong I would be willing to give so much more of myself." Sound familiar?
One of the greatest challenges facing employers today is a lack of employee engagement and it's affecting productivity and the bottom line. The most recent Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report states that organizations with highly engaged workforces enjoy 22% greater profit margins and 21% greater productivity. And in addition, those same companies have a 65% lower employee turnover rate and are enjoying a host of other tangible benefits. So if we want to get our engagement numbers up, we have to focus on developing our leaders and creating company cultures that will engage the people we serve. The health and well-being of the company and everyone in it, depends on it.
Here are a few steps to get you on that path:
1. Be a role model:
If we are to create highly engaged workplaces, we must begin with ourselves. We need to examine our values and identify what it is important to us. And once we do, we must integrate those values into our lives and lead from within. Genuine leadership begins with personal leadership and without ourselves as role models, it is next to impossible to inspire others to follow our lead.
2. Lead from the heart:
We must remember that at the heart and soul of employee engagement is the need to engage people's minds and to do so, we must first touch their hearts. When we really care about others, they will invariably care about their colleagues, their work, their clients and the company as a whole. Caring cultures inspire people to go the extra mile and instead of simply showing up, they are motivated to take themselves and the company, to a higher level of performance.
3. Mine the gold in others.
As leaders, it' important to bring out the best in others. We must praise accomplishments, no matter how small. We must communicate in a way that does not demean others. And, we must inspire our people to believe in something far greater than themselves. This is what gives meaning and purpose to our lives and the lives of those we lead and ultimately, fosters a commitment to the company's vision and purpose.
4. Listen to your inner voice:
To lead effectively, we must listen to our inner voice. Only then can we inspire others to own their voice and allow them to be heard. We must do our part to create workplaces where everyone feels valued, appreciated and respected. These are the keys to building trust, increasing productivity and improving results.
5. Hold up a mirror, instead of a looking glass.
We must change our own behaviours and be accountable for how we interact with and treat others. After all, as Professor John Oliver wrote in his report "Engaging For Success", "99% of failure to engage staff comes down to management behaviour". Until we take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, actions and outcomes, we are not being accountable and people will invariably lose respect and disengage.
What employee engagement really adds up to is the need to create a "human" kind of workplace where everyone can thrive. It's the kind of workplace where people take pride in themselves and their work and where everyone willingly becomes a brand ambassador. And perhaps most importantly, it's the kind of workplace where coming to work is worth a day of everyone's life and in gratitude, everyone is inspired to give back and make a difference.
Kimberley Richardson Copyright 2014.
I can remember our encounter like it was yesterday. He looked up at me timidly, afraid to look me in the eye. In a trembling voice he asked, "Spare any change, ma'am?" I responded, "I'm so sorry Sir. I would love to, but unfortunately I don't have any." Smiling he said, "that's ok your acknowledgement is payment enough." With tears in my eyes, I walked away somewhat humbled by the gift he had given me. I made a mental note "to always carry some change" just in case I would see him or other people like him, again.
During the Holiday Season, as we run from one place to another, we will pass people like this gentleman. Cold and hungry, they will persist in their request for change, from one person after another. Many will walk by, some will reach into their pockets and a precious few, will reach into their hearts. Those who fall into the latter category will be giving the gift of acknowledgement - that priceless gift that is wrapped up in kindness and tied with dignity.
We have many leadership lessons to learn from our homeless people, not the least of which is humility. Here are a few more worth sharing:
1. Be compassionate:
We must remember to not judge the homeless as "less than" or condemn them for being on the streets. There are stories upon stories of people who's lives were changed in an instant, by tragedy. People like the former executive of Shell Oil who's wife and daughters were killed in a car accident. Unable to cope with this terrible loss, he eventually lost everything and found himself on the street. He did not choose the street, his life circumstances placed him there.
2. Preserve their dignity:
Though we've all heard stories about people who choose to live on the streets, far too often mental illness them there. With current stats of 1 out of 4 people suffering from mental illness, it's not surprising that those without a support system end up being homeless. We must strive to do our very best as human beings, to preserve their dignity and to treat them with respect. Those who do will be doubly rewarded.
3. Remember, there are great teachers and leaders amongst them:
Closer to home, my Uncle Cliff was once an English teacher who taught at Forest Hill Collegiate and Upper Canada College in Toronto. After a series of difficult life circumstances, severe mental illness and hard times, he ended up on the street. He went on to create Poetry Canada Review, a newspaper of the heart reporting on what really matters. It was also the first newspaper where Canadian poets could post and share their work. He also published three poetry books and won several international awards. Sometimes people must hit rock bottom before their gifts are discovered.
And so as we move forward with our gift giving, let's remember to have an open and humble heart. Let's do our best to take the time to acknowledge those less fortunate than ourselves. Let's strive to BE the change and honour our fellow human beings. And finally, let's always remember that every one is somebody's child.
If we do, we will lift their spirits and ours, not only at Christmas, but always. Fellow leaders amongst us.
Lead. Make a difference. Leave a legacy.
As you approach the holiday season you will find yourself in a variety of business and social settings. Each setting will give you the chance to meet both new and familiar faces and the opportunity to truly connect with others. Now connecting with those we know is easy, but what about with those we don't? And importantly, how do we make genuine connections with strangers?
Well, let's set the scene and find out:
You've been invited to a function. As you enter the room, you look around and are overwhelmed by a sea of unfamiliar faces. Your goal is to establish new relationships, but there’s only one problem – the thought of ‘connecting with strangers terrifies you! Well you can relax, because you're not alone. According to the Shyness Research Institute of America, 88% of professionals feel uncomfortable in business and social situations. The study goes on to show that nothing is more frightening to people than chatting with a stranger. So, apart from heading to the buffet table or hiding behind the tallest plant, how can you gain confidence in these situations? Quite simply - by being yourself and making people feel comfortable and at ease.
Here are 10 quick tips that will help you do that:
1. Be the first person to say hello. When introducing yourself to someone, smile first and always shake hands. Make an effort to remember people’s names and always remember to shake hands long enough to notice the colour of their eyes. You will leave a lasting impression and make a genuine connection.
2. Watch your body language: If you stand with open body language, others will likely see you as approachable. If you look uncomfortable and ill at ease, you will make others feel the same way. Act confident and comfortable, by standing tall, shoulders back and smile. People will mirror your body language and will want to engage you in conversation.
3. Become an active listener. Great conversationalists are always great listeners. Be other-focused and talk to others about themselves. Make genuine eye contact and refrain from glancing around the room. Engage others in conversation by asking, who, what, where, when, why, and tell me questions. You will not only cultivate respect, people will find you fascinating!
4. Search for common ground. Get others talking by leading with a common ground statement that pertains to the location or the event. For example, “They seem to have a great turnout this year, how many years have you been coming to this event? If it’s a social function, ask them how they know the host. General topics of interest always include: family, food,vacation, sports. By finding common ground you give people the opportunity to connect with you on a non-business level and it also gives you the chance to explore shared values. And remember, it's our shared values that allow us to forge new and strong relationships, quickly.
5. Come prepared. Prior to attending a function, think about three things to talk about as well as several generic questions, that will get others talking. Be aware of current events and avoid talking about anything that is too political, too personal and unprofessional. If you know the host, think about his or her interests or a charity that you are both involved in. This will serve as a springboard to further conversation.
6. Contribute something interesting. Great conversation builders begin with, “What do you think of?” “What is your take on?” or “Have you heard?” Always avoid gossip, controversial subjects and refrain from long-winded stories or giving too much detail in conversation.
7. Approach the right people. When working a room, it’s important to be sensitive to the conversations that others may be engaged in. As a general rule of thumb, always approach people in groups of three or someone who is standing on their own. Before entering a conversation that is in progress, observe and listen. You will want to avoid interrupting the dynamics with an inappropriate or ill-timed remark.
8. Make proper introductions. As a general rule of thumb, if you are introducing someone to someone else, always say the most important person's name first. ie. If you are introducing your President to someone you would say, John (President's name), I would like to introduce you to Mary English. Mary this is our President, John Smith. If your client is present, however, always remember that your client is the most important person in which case you would say his/her name first and follow with the introduction just as in the above example.
If there is someone you really want to meet, seek the help of someone who knows them and have them introduce you. If you meet someone you have met before and you are not sure the person will remember your name, introduce yourself first by saying " Hi John, Susan Smith. It's good to see you again." Take your time during introductions and maintain eye contact.
9. Handle business cards with respect. When receiving someone’s business card, accept it as you would a gift. Take a moment to read their card and make a positive comment like, “This is a great card or "Oh, you’re from England.” After you do, place their card in your breast pocket, purse or wallet to show that you value and appreciate it.
10. Exit gracefully. Get comfortable with some exit lines that will allow you to gracefully end a conversation. Begin by saying, “I really enjoyed meeting you and I hope we have a chance to speak again.” and/or “I didn’t get a chance to eat lunch today, so if you’ll excuse me I’m going to grab a bite." or I really enjoyed our conversation and I hope to see you again." May I have your card before I go and I'll be sure to follow up with you?” Shake hands, smile and move on.
To get ahead today, keep in mind that management is looking for leaders who possess excellent people skills and who can adapt to a variety of business and social situations. Knowing how to engage others in conversation will build self-confidence and ensure that your guests and clients feel comfortable and at ease. The ability to genuinely connect with others will strengthen your image and importantly, make people like you, remember you and ideally, want do business with you.
So as the holiday season approaches, remember, if you are genuine your conversations will help you build respect, rapport and relationships. By applying these ten key steps, you will lead with a difference, set yourself apart from the competition and importantly, leave a lasting and memorable impression.
So, here’s to making this holiday season the best one yet and to making genuine connections!
Can you imagine how great it would feel to be excited and enthusiastic about coming to work every day? To know that you are truly valued, appreciated and respected? To feel inspired, motivated, engaged and willing to go the extra mile?
Well, according to Gallup's new 142 country study on the State of the Global Workplace , "only 13% of employees worldwide are actually engaged at work. The bulk of employees worldwide -- 63% -- are "not engaged," meaning they lack motivation and are less likely to invest discretionary effort in organizational goals or outcomes. And 24% are "actively disengaged," indicating they are unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers. In rough numbers, this translates into 900 million not engaged and 340 million actively disengaged workers around the globe."
Fortunately in Canada and the U.S. the numbers are a little better: "29% Engaged - 54% Not engaged - 18%Actively Disengaged." What this says to me is that 71% of the working population is unproductive and unhappy. A sad reality when you think about it since we spend 75% of our waking hours, working.
So what can this situation be attributed to? Well, I have a hunch that it all comes down to a lack of genuine leaders. There are people in leadership positions and positions of power, who are not true leaders and therefore, do not know how to bring out the best in others. As a result, morale and productivity is low and people are unmotivated.
Here are my Top 3 suggestions to help you become one, make a real difference and turn these numbers around.
Are you prepared? Your 21st Century Competitive Edge - September 2013 http://conta.cc/1aZP91n
There is nothing more important to the achievement of your dreams and the ability to live your best life, than having a life vision. When coaching our clients, we suggest that they project their lives 10 years into the future and to write out their vision, in the present. 10 years, most people say? And to that we reply, yes! Why? Because time flies by so quickly and besides if I were to ask you to reflect on where you were ten years ago, it's very easy for most people to remember.
When writing out your vision, it's important that you incorporate all of your values, into that vision, For example, if you value your health, be sure to write about your health and overall sense of well-being. By doing so, you will also begin to make better life choices that will contribute to a healthy lifestyle and a greater sense of well-being, beginning today. It's important as well that your vision includes personal growth and development, your chosen career of course, creative pursuits, spiritual beliefs, the friends in your life, your legacy ie. how you will have contributed to the lives of others, family, loved ones and lastly, time for you and you alone. All of these topics form the 9 components of your potential and are key to living a happy fulfilling and abundant life. As such, it's important that all of these topics are incorporated into your life vision. Next step is to begin to set realistic, measurable and meaningful goals -they will become the stepping stones towards your dreams and the foundation upon which your vision will be achieved.
Kimberley is an inspirational speaker, seminar leader and executive coach. She inspires people to become genuine leaders and in turn, the kind of person others are inspired to emulate.