One of my clients had an experience similar to this

My client is a bank in Maine who now is the #1 bank in their community. 90% of the employees have a community activity of their choosing. Results new customers have come to the bank, customer service ratings for the bank are fantastic, unwanted turnover is nonexistent and profits of the bank substantially. I can help you achieve similar results

What Leaders Can Do to Build Optimized Workers

First, it starts with simply recognizing the synergy among strengths, engagement and wellbeing and that their interactions represent clear opportunities to be leveraged. Getting leadership fully versed and committed to these principles is a required vanguard to successfully implementing the concepts in a practical manner.

Next, it involves taking a step back and realizing that it’s hard to manage to someone’s strengths if you don’t know what they are. A critical, basic step for many organizations is to simply determine the unique strengths of everyone who works there.

The CliftonStrengths assessment and supporting online and in-person courses are designed to help people “name, claim and aim” their strengths. Once you have laid the foundation of strengths throughout the organization, you can begin to build your culture around them.

The final step, of course, is applying the principles in practice. One Gallup client, for example, is currently exploring the strengths-engagement-wellbeing relationship in one of its groups responsible for community outreach — a smart strategy for improving community, social and career wellbeing alike. Teams are encouraged to sign up to support different community programs sponsored by their organization, with their leaders having ongoing conversations about how to introduce strengths and engagement initiatives into those teams in the context of the outreach. As these volunteers come together, their strengths can be explored to better understand who they are both individually and as a team and how this can be leveraged to help them successfully navigate the community projects they are working on. The 12 critical psychological needs of employee engagement can, in turn, be used to both prepare for and debrief the experience, such as:

  • Are we clear on what is expected of us regarding this community project?
  • Do we have what we need to succeed? Based on who we are as a group, is each person’s set of strengths being kept in mind?
  • Is my role on the project best aligned with my own personal strengths?
  • Are we celebrating our successes on the project based on how each individual uniquely prefers to be recognized?
  • Am I given the opportunity to propose ideas about how each person on the team can best contribute to the project, based on their individual aptitudes?

By weaving both strengths and engagement initiatives into organizational processes already aimed at driving wellbeing, leaders can fully benefit from existing opportunities. And by building robust coaching models aimed at capitalizing on the interactions among strengths, engagement and wellbeing, organizations can take their performance to the next level and fully leverage these indispensable components of optimized human potential.

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Why employees are fed up with feedback

Oliver is having a very bad day. During his end-of-year review, his boss told him that his priorities are wrong, his approach is unfocused and his performance is mediocre.

Then she handed him a printout of a mandatory, multistep process he must follow, had him agree in writing to a weekly “accountability checklist” and sent him back to work.

The thing is, Oliver’s boss is right. Oliver focuses on the aspects of the job that he likes. He lets too much slide off his radar, and he isn’t getting enough done. But she’s wrong if she thinks he’ll be motivated to improve — while she was doing the next employee’s performance review, Oliver was scrolling through job postings.

Good or bad, feedback ought to be effective.

Feedback can, and sometimes should, be tough to hear. However, if an employee feels demotivated, criticized, disappointed or depressed after a feedback session with their boss, the manager failed. Oliver’s boss failed in a big way — nothing she said helped him improve. Or made him want to.

Congratulatory or corrective, feedback should motivate employees to do better work, position them for success and engage them. Reviews like Oliver’s just deflate people. Gallup research shows that only 10.4% of employees whose manager’s feedback left them with negative feelings (felt criticized, demotivated, disappointed or depressed) are engaged, and four out of five say they’re actively or passively looking for other employment.

On the other hand, workers whose manager’s feedback left them with positive feelings (felt inspired to improve or positive about knowing how to do their work better) are 3.9 times more likely to be engaged than employees who felt hurt, and only 3.6% of them are actively looking for another job.

Custom graphic. Workers whose manager’s feedback left them with positive feelings are 3.9 times more likely to be engaged than employees who felt hurt.
Custom graphic. Among workers whose manager’s feedback left them with positive feelings, 3.6% are actively looking for another job.

But this doesn’t mean positive feedback is necessarily effective feedback. Employees can walk away from a performance review feeling more engaged than ever, but without hearing what they need to know to improve.

That’s probably because, as Gallup research has discovered, managers generally don’t know what to say — only 14.5% of managers strongly agree that they are effective at giving feedback.

This highlights a clear opportunity for leaders to ensure their managers know how to provide feedback that makes workers feel engaged and motivated — and keeps them off the job posting websites.

Keep performance reviews both positive and effectual.

First, managers must understand that positive feedback is not false or partial feedback. To be effective, managers have to be truthful and comprehensive. But even unwelcome feedback can be given in a way that helps, not hurts. To keep performance reviews both positive and effectual, managers should:

  1. Start with wins. Managers can inspire employees to improve by discussing recent successes and asking employees to brag about victories from their point of view. Managers and workers may chart wins from different perspectives, but both points of view stoke employees’ confidence — helping them to figure out what led to their wins, and do more of it.
  2. Focus on specifics. General feedback doesn’t do much for employees. Oliver’s boss said his work is mediocre, but she didn’t tell him what great work in his role looks like. So whether discussing successes, wins, mistakes or failures, the more specific and focused the conversation, the more employees can learn and plan for the future.
  3. Pair encouragement with constructive feedback. In some instances, employees need correction. Mistakes happen, and when managed appropriately, they can be learning experiences. But managers need to ask what the worker can learn from the mistake. Employees appreciate a coach who helps them learn and get better each day, and they don’t always know what went wrong — or even that something did.
  4. Keep conversations frequent. Having meaningful conversations at least once per week keeps managers continuously attuned to their employees’ performance and workplace needs. And that routine assures employees that they’ll get the opportunity to be recognized, ask questions, discuss performance hurdles or blueprint their near-term work. Frequent conversations keep performance surprises to a minimum and help prevent big misses. And while these conversations may focus on different topics, they should always include goal setting, check-ins and project updates. Annual reviews, if your company does them, should be about reflection and evaluation.

Clearly, the point is not to say a negative thing in a positive way. It’s to say positive and negative things in ways that improve workers’ performance. It helps if managers operate under the premise that people want to do good work but sometimes lack information or specific talents for their role.

Why I don’t work with jerks.

I recently turned down an opportunity to work with a company that was run by a group of jerks. They fundamentally wanted me to make them feel good about their organization with really no commitment to a better workplace. I told them to save their money because they were going to need it to survive in the future. He is what I meant.
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Rethinking Competencies, Expectations for Leaders

This article is the first in a series about rethinking competency behaviors, feedback, and programs. IT is also how I help you improve your organizational performance

The simplest way to be clear about behavioral expectations for leaders is to communicate which behaviors achieve the results your business wants — not with a list of competencies that may or may not link to outcomes. Companies that don’t examine the behaviors that lead to the desired outcomes are liable to confuse leaders about what is expected of them.

That’s not at all unusual. Though knowing what is expected of them at work is an employee’s most fundamental need, Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report found that only six in 10 employees know what those expectations are. What’s more, just 41% strongly agree that their job description aligns well with the work they are asked to do.

The lack of clear expectations and accurate job descriptions creates an ever-present fear of being exposed as incompetent and being punished for it.

And managers may be worse off than the teams they lead. According to Gallup’s first perspective paper in a series on this topic, The Manager Experience: Top Challenges & Perks of Managers, managers are:

  • 15 percentage points more likely to say they have multiple competing priorities
  • four points less likely to say their job description is clear or that it aligns to the work they do
  • six points more likely to feel stress during a lot of the workday
  • 11% less likely strongly agree they get to do what they do best every day.

The lack of clear expectations and accurate job descriptions creates an ever-present fear of being exposed as incompetent and then being punished for it. Leaders have a real incentive to meekly accept lists of competency requirements, even if the requirements don’t align with their role.

Consequently, HR’s performance reviews can’t be entirely realistic or comprehensive. When HR must rely on an ambiguous, inconsistent, contradictory array of traits, skills, capabilities, knowledge, behaviors, and responsibilities — and trust, this describes far too many competency models — the job is far more difficult than it has to be.

What HR needs, what all leaders and managers need, is a fresh look at the behaviors that actually contribute to performance, development and success.

Competencies 2.0: The 7 Expectations for Leadership Behavior

Recently, Gallup researchers conducted a study involving more than 550 job roles and 360 unique job competencies. It showed that leaders achieve success, despite varied roles, organizations, and industries, by focusing on the behaviors within these seven expectations:

1. Build relationships. Establish connections with others to build trust, share ideas and accomplish work.

2. Develop people. Help others become more effective through strengths development, clear expectations, encouragement and coaching.

3. Lead change. Recognize that change is essential, set goals for change and lead purposeful efforts to adapt work that aligns with the stated vision.

4. Inspire others. Encourage others through positivity, vision, confidence, challenge and recognition.

5. Think critically. Seek information, critically evaluate the information, apply the knowledge gained and solve problems.

6. Communicate clearly. Listen, share information concisely and with purpose, and be open to hearing opinions.

7. Create accountability. Identify the consequences of actions and hold yourself and others responsible for performance.

Changing the expectation from a focus on competency to behavior instead allows organizations and their leaders to focus on the critical expectations of the job, not the things no one can control (e.g., idiosyncrasies), overly specific requirements (e.g., specific knowledge), and unrealistic aspirations (e.g., irrelevant skills).

What HR needs, what all leaders and managers need, is a fresh look at the behaviors that actually contribute to performance, development and success.

Anyone can gear their actions toward an expectation, though everyone does so in their own way. A leader’s “own way” can be identified and measured with the CliftonStrengths assessment. People who know and use their CliftonStrengths are:

  • 6x as likely to be engaged at work
  • 7.8% more productive in their role
  • 3x as likely to have an excellent quality of life
  • 6x as likely to do what they do best every day

This is why when I work with you we find your competences.