5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of May 30, 2017
Each week I read a number of leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.
According to Research, Here’s the Single Key to Improving Employee Engagement by Joseph Folkman at Forbes.com
A large organization had a high level of employee engagement in 2009. They believed a workforce of highly engaged and committed employees is a key factor influencing business success and a positive culture. Everyone seemed pleased with the high level of engagement until one senior leader said, “If high engagement is good, wouldn’t an even higher level be better?”
The CEO believed that if the company set a goal to maintain the high level of engagement, it would decline — the only way to keep engagement high is to work hard to take it continually higher. Over the years this organization has measured the engagement of its employee and has found a way to continuously improve the level of engagement in the organization.
Note that while engagement in this organization overall is quite high, when people work for an ineffective manager (e.g., those at the 10th percentile) the engagement level is very low (20th percentile). Those who work for a highly effective manager have high levels of engagement.
My Comment: Of all the factors that happen inside an organization, as a leader, you have more influence on your employee’s engagement than does any other factor. For organizations, Folkman rightly points out that you’ve got to get individual managers the feedback they need in order to monitor their own effectiveness. For individual leaders, it reinforces the fact that good leadership can make up for a variety of other organizational ills.
5 Questions Leaders Need to Ask to Increase Morale at Work by Mary Kelly, PhD, CDR, US Navy (Ret)
Keeping employees motivated is crucial to maintaining an effective and productive workplace. The American Management Association points out that increasing morale doesn’t come from gimmicky management fads, it come from within the workplace. Sometimes asking a few simple questions can yield amazingly productive results.
Be warned: If you ask the question, and you don’t do anything with the response, your lack of activity may make the workplace situation worse, as you will be perceived as being all talk and no action. If you are going to ask your people questions, then you have a responsibility to respond. Be prepared to walk the walk.
My Comment: Part of the power of these questions is that they get your team thinking positively and productively. People usually find what they look for – if you ask your employees what’s wrong, you’ll likely get a morale-draining litany of problems. In contrast, when you ask “what would make our workplace more enjoyable” or “what keeps you motivated,” you’ve focused on the opportunity and positive aspects in a way that helps you build on them, without being a Pollyanna or foolish about the reality of your workplace.
How Managers Can Excel by Really Coaching Their Employees by Ben Wigert and Annamarie Mann at Gallup.
Can we talk?
The answer to that simple question may have a profound impact on how employees are managed, now and into the foreseeable future.
It’s certainly a question that front-line managers will have to answer if they want to get the most out of today’s workforce.
The problem is, recent Gallup research finds that only about one in four employees “strongly agree” that their manager provides meaningful feedback to them — or that the feedback they receive helps them do better work. Even more alarming is that a mere 21% of employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.
My Comment: As we share Winning Well with leaders around the world, one of the most common problems we encounter is that leaders know they should give feedback and coach their employees, but they don’t know how.
And why should they know how? After all, it is a skill that has to be learned – and most organizations put managers in their role with little or no training. One of our more popular tools, available in the free Winning Well Toolkit is the 9 What’s Business Coaching Model. A few straightforward questions and you’ll develop your employee’s problem solving and critical thinking skills – freeing you up to the work only you can do.
4 Unexpected Words Powerful Leaders Say Daily to Inspire Others by Todd Nordstrom at Inc.com
It’s not a good number. In fact, it’s not something anyone in a leadership position wants to admit. However, when a Harvard Business Review survey reveals that 58 percent of people trust strangers, while only 42 percent trust their boss, it’s time to acknowledge there’s a communication problem in corporate culture. The leader/subordinate relationship is obviously suffering and the detriment it creates comes with a high price — disengagement, loss of productivity and turnover.
Of course, the statistics surrounding the supposed dismal state of the corporate world could ramble on and on. A survey by business communication software company Bolste suggests that only 25 percent of employees feel extremely happy in their job. And just last month, CBS News ran a story titled “Why So Many Americans Hate Their Jobs,” which cited the now infamous Gallup poll detailing the American workplace that seems to remind us all each year just how bad things are at work.
My Comment: I’ve long advocated for the simple power of specific languages. In The Seven Things Your Team Needs to Hear You Say, I share specific phrases that help to unlock your employee’s creativity, problem-solving, and productivity. Nordstrom focuses on four specific words that your employees need to hear from you. They have the power to help you build better relationships, improve morale, and achieve better results.
6 Ways to Make Hard Decisions Easier as a Leader by Jayson Demers at Entrepreneur.com
Leadership is mentally and emotionally demanding. Not only will you need to temper your emotions to keep your team inspired, you’ll also be the point person for almost every hard decision your business makes.
You’re the one who has to make the call, and the one who has to deal with the consequences. It’s no wonder that depression affects entrepreneurs more than the average population.
Sooner or later, you’ll be forced to make a tough call; it might mean firing an employee you’re personally close with, or making a risky strategic change for the business or ending a long-term partnership.
My Comment: You’ve got to make decisions, and yet, the research around decision-making suggests that you have a limited number of good decisions in you each day – so you’ve got to make each one count. Demers’s list is an excellent way to help you reduce your decision-fatigue and make timely decisions that help move your team and business forward.
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