Are your people really engaged?
A common complaint among business owners is that they feel that not all their employees are fully engaged, in other words, the employee is not giving their best. With sales reps, I hear managers and owners complain that a rep is coasting. The rep has made their quota or their earning a living at a comfortable level but not really serving their market nor the company to the best of their ability.
Diagnosing The Real Cause
I work with companies to improve engagement, to get people personally motivated, improve their life skills, and improve their work performance. The results are really fun for I see not only companies improve earnings but employees that are happier, healthier, and have less stress.
Before I begin any type of process that focuses on improving engagement, I want to know does the owner believe he or she has the right people in the first place. This is critical, for if you don’t have the right people “on the bus” in Jim Collins terms, no matter what seat you put them in, they won’t perform as needed.
According to Gino Wickman in the book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business there are 3 key measures in assessing an employee. The first is related to culture and vision. The second is related to motivation and attitude, and the third is related to capability- intellectual and skills.
Do they “Get it?” – Assess the employee in terms of do they truly buyin to the culture and vision of the company. If your company culture is all about good communication and customer service and this employee is a poor communicator and is has a self serving focus versus helping others, then they are not a good fit, no matter how experienced they are. They key issue here is that the employee has to have a total buyin to Why and What you are trying to accomplish AND How you are trying to accomplish the goal. Why is the vision/mission and How is the culture. A bad cultural fit hurts everyone and causes poor engagement.
The second component is the employee’s attitude and motivation. Does this person really want to do the job and give their best effort? For exampple, with an 8 man rowing team, a crew member may know how to row, and be very skilled at doing so, but if they don’t really want to win, they won’t give it their best effort. Not giving their best effort negatively effects the rest of the team.
The good news is that attitude and motivation are areas that can be improved to some degreee. A person has to want to work at the company, but may not have the training of the mind to keep a positive attitude and stay motivated. A person may never have learned how to have a positive attitude. Attitude and motivation, wanting to do the job in a productive manner, can actually be improved if the improvement process uses cognitive behavorial therapy. To improve the “Want” in doing a job well, a person must examine their beliefs and motivations and be willing to go through a rigourous ongoing process to change the beliefs that inhibit their performance. I use a curriculum that I developed from Billy Cox’s book You Gotta Get in the Game to help people change their attitude. The heart of the curriculum is to help with self-discovery of where they have negative attitudes and lack goals, then develop a plan to correct the negatives and accentuate the positive. It works for many. The process also quickly identifes those who don’t really “Want it”. These people should be quickly let go. As many a business sage has said “Hire slowly, but fire quickly.”
The third component of engagement is capacity related to IQ and skills. A person can be taught a new skill to improve their performance. The question is “How quick can they learn this new skill and how effective will they be in execution once they learn the skill?” Not all people can learn as fast as management needs them to nor can all people execute with equal effectiveness. If you determine your employee doesn’t have the learning capacity or the execution capacity, but they do “Get it” and “Want it”, look for other positions to place them within your company. If there are no other positions, it requires letting them seek other places of work where they can be effective which, in the long run, is a win for them too.
When owners want everyone to work harder and be more effective but neglect the foundation of assessing the key components of “Get it?, Want it? and Capable of doing it?”, it is a setup for mediocrity. Also, without a team who pocesses all three criteria, the top performers may become frustrated and slack off on their work too.
Having all your employees fully engaged first requires making sure you have the right employees for the company and in the right position.