Development and Employee Engagement

Once a team member has been in their role for a while, things can become stagnant. Work is done just because that’s the way it’s always been done and innovative methods can fall from the radar. Success is measured on completion and consistency instead of creativity and conquering challenges.

Leaders need to focus on developing their team members so that they don’t lose the competitive edge of pioneering new methods or procedures. A company must be committed to taking the time and showing interest in the development of their employees in order to encourage job commitment and engagement.

Employees have a tendency to get bored after doing something for too long, so even those team members who are happy with their tenure and their position should still be pushed to achieve more and learn something new within the realm of their current field of expertise.  It will also show that their leader is in invested in their success.

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There are great benefits of employee development. Companies can recruit new talent by offering solid training programs and can ensure their current employees have all of the tools and resources that they need in order to promote in an organization.

Even if a promotion is not currently available, employees will be able to proactively better themselves and be prepared when an opportunity comes up.  Development isn’t always necessarily about promoting as some employees just want the option to learn more.

Development does take time; however, most of the supplies are within the organization.  Leaders can utilize their experience to provide trainings and share their knowledge.  Also, mentorship programs and shadowing opportunities can be made a priority to encourage growth within the organization. Here is a great plan to start a mentoring program.

Training courses can also focus on things outside of the professional realm to encourage team building and personal development. For example, a cooking class, which shows that the organization is not only committed to developing people professionally, but personally as well.

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By utilizing development and training opportunities as benefits for employees, businesses may see an increase in engagement, productivity and retention. This is key because disengagement costs more than $500 billion per year in the U.S. Even more concerning is that 86% of businesses and HR leaders believe they don’t have a good leadership path.  Most concerning is that creating development programs is completely within the control of a company.  Training programs can be as easy as pooling resources or reaching out to experts on certain fields.

By encouraging development at work, a business will be able to grow their talent and possibly reduce turnover rates. Companies must capitalize on internal resources to improve the workplace by ensuring they are able to promote from within and give people the opportunity to exceed potential.  Development and training should be a part of the company cutlure in order for both to become priorities.

What is development and training like in your organization? Let me know in the comment section below.


Why I Dressed Up as the Easter Bunny at Work

Happy Easter weekend everyone! I hope it is filled with coloring eggs, delicious food and the Easter Bunny! Speaking of bunnies, I had the great opportunity on Friday to dress up as the Easter Bunny at work.

Then with senior leadership in tow, we went from department to department celebrating the holiday with our employees by giving out small prizes and Easter eggs. I hope it sounds as fun and funny to you as it was to us.

FullSizeRWhy would hopping in a bunny suit be the priority of my day? Because it made people
laugh, smile and hopefully it made their day better even if just for a few moments. Humor has many benefits, and I hope that I got to spread just a little bit of it at work.  Also, this is part of our culture at work and every leader on property does things like this.

While I believe wholeheartedly in the power of hello, I also believe in the power of a smile and laughter. There is a lot of serious business that happens at work, and that’s why these moments of sheer hilarity make they day a little easier.

Leaders should be focused on creating genuine moments of employee connection because it makes people feel better. Leaders have a direct ability to affect people in the work place, so if they are willing to have a little fun and spread a smile, it won’t only be good for the employees, but also the customer base.

However, there is a lot of research out there that shows we should smile less at work.  Based on the research, smilers are seen as more naïve and trusting. I think we can smile, be a little silly and show positivity at work while backing up our confidence, intelligence and work-ethic levels through our actions.

By dressing up as a bunny, I proved I don’t take myself too seriously and that I genuinely want everyone to have the best day possible at work. I think by celebrating holidays and increasing recognition, team members will be able to have fun, which is critical to customer service.

If a business wants to spread positivity throughout an organization, it has to be willing to let loose every once in an awhile.  While dressing up like a bunny may not be everyone’s favorite thing, each leader needs to find a way to be genuine and engaging with limited embarrassment or uncomfortable feelings.

Senior leaders especially can prove that employees come first by taking the time to chat with everyone as frequently as possible, send humorous e-mails or do something that shows their human side. The leaders set the pulse for an organization, so if laughter and positivity is desired, then they have find out what makes employees laugh and do it.

Is your business all work and no play? How do you encourage fun at work? Let me know in the comment section below.

The Power of Hello

Think about the last time you made eye contact with someone, shared a smile and then a genuine hello. The feeling of connecting with people is something most people crave. People love to be a part of something bigger than them, and it all starts with “Hello!”

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Now, I won’t pull any cheesy Adele references, but I think greetings can be absolutely powerful. By extending a warm hello, it shows that we noticed a person and that we want that individual to feel welcomed, especially in the workplace.

Sometimes all it takes is a good greeting to get people to completely open up about the crazy morning that they had or the frustrating issue that they are still dealing with. It spreads a culture of inclusivity and positivity.

It can also help us make greater connections and utilize our networking skills. Sometimes meeting someone new at a meeting or an event can be daunting, but it’s really just as easy as saying hello. Once you get passed the hello, here are a few tips to keep the conversation going.

Equally as important is to greet someone who doesn’t greet you. It could easily change the perceptions that are there and may even fix a broken relationship by opening the possibility for dialogue. Give it a try, the worst thing that could happen is they say nothing, like they always do anyway!

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Leaders also need to be critically aware of how important their welcome is for their employees. If a leader comes into the office day after day and doesn’t recognize the team with a good morning, it sets a tone that work is more important than a positive environment and a caring culture. If you are a leader, make a point of greeting each individual on your team if that’s possible. If not, send out a good morning e-mail message to the whole team and see what happens to the buzz in the office.

Speaking of e-mail, always, always, always include some type of greeting in the initial e-mail you send to a person. This again sets the tone, and if you are asking for a favor, you should at least take a moment to greet that person. Here is a complete list of other ideas to make your e-mails professional and polished.

Greetings have the ability to change someone’s day and can really infect a business’s culture with positivity, acceptance and friendliness. Saying hello is extremely contagious, so just note that you have been warned that once you start, you luckily won’t be able stop!

The next time you are at work, say hello to everyone you see and let me know what happens in the comment section below.

The Employee Opinion Survey


Employee opinion surveys come in all shapes, sizes and lengths, and if used correctly, they can directly affect employee engagement and the culture of the organization.

There are few things a company and HR team can do right in order to collect influential information from their employees:

  1. Think about the questions you really want answered. Questions can be centered on benefits, company culture, senior leadership and job satisfaction. Organizations should steer clear of asking questions that they can’t formulate an answer to. For example, I have great friends at work.
  2. Ensure participation through incentives. While not all employees will want, or even be willing, to take the employee survey, it’s a good idea to incentivize participation. This makes it fun and shows the employees that the company is so committed to the feedback that they will shell out a gift card, early out or sweet treat. This site has great ways to boost participation including having the option of anonymity or having pulse surveys.
  3. Do What You Say You Will Do. If the company promises real action based on the results, managers have to follow-through. All of this genuine information has just been collected; don’t just let it sit there until the next survey. Each manager should be tasked with the responsibility to improve their departments throughout the next year and to write down the goals, strategies and tactics on how to get there. If employees feel like their feedback doesn’t matter, they definitely won’t take the survey again.
  4. Remember, all feedback is good feedback. Read a comment or see a score that makes you cringe? That is a GOOD thing! Organizations should be begging for honest, open feedback, as this will only improve the culture as long as number 3 is followed. If all answers come back positive, I would be extremely suspicious of what was actually happening in the departments and throughout the organization. No company is perfect (not even the best), so remember to take the good with the bad and then make a difference.
  5. It’s just one of many tools. Organizations need to remember that the survey is not a catchall, with the hopes that it will cure the company of any cultural issues it may have. It’s simply one way to ask for feedback that should be used in conjunction with a number of other options.

Employee opinion surveys can really help leaders and companies create the culture and level of employee engagement they want, but the survey results have to be reviewed and used in order to better the organization.

Does your company have an employee opinion survey? How does it impact its workers? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Let’s Kill The HR Stereotype

HR is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Employees see it as a place where peers go and never return while leaders see it as a checklist chasing, rule follower.   There are several reasons why people hate HR. However, HR can be such a pivotal strategy for any business.

When employees and leaders overcome the stereotype of HR, they really can benefit from having a great HR team that they can rely on every day. HR can be fun and it should be! HR can drive the culture throughout an organization and should be supported by all business members instead of dreaded or feared. HR is important, here’s ten reasons that prove it.

Employees should rely on HR to provide information about benefits, create useful, necessary trainings and create a fun culture throughout the organization. HR has all the perks, discount, and, most of time, all of the information on fun new things for employees to get excited about. They are also there to help when an employee needs to take a leave, gets the wrong medical bill, is paid incorrectly or wants a promotion.

Also, employees should see HR as a sounding board when things aren’t going right. Whether it’s through a one-on-one conversation or an anonymous feedback method, employees should use HR as a neutral party in the workplace.  HR should be pro-employee and pro-company (isn’t that one in the same?) by listening, sharing information and taking feedback into consideration.

HR is also a savior for leaders. When it’s time to complete reviews, have a difficult conversation with an employee or create formal documentation, HR should be the first contact because it provides an outsiders perspective to the daily challenges in a department.   Also, if a team is struggling with morale or needs a new incentive program, the HR team can share best practices. Leaders should also use HR as a safe-place sounding board to vent frustrations.

human-resources-management-masters-degree-programI think the view of HR is getting better, but in order for it to change, HR teams need to take accountability for this as well.  They need to be knowledgeable, follow-through on action items and work extremely hard for the organization.  They need to own their department and prove that they provide value to the organization.

HR teams also need to take their jobs of protecting employees and leaders seriously and really focus on their neutral stance within an organization, which isn’t always easy. All decisions should be fair, consistent and based on a reliable, thorough a handbook. Since HR doesn’t typically generate revenue in the formal sense, it has to show how resourceful and beneficial its tools are on a daily basis.

I truly believe that employees need to be supported and protected, and that leadership needs the influence of a third party to effectively lead their teams and ensure compliance.  HR has the power to support both leaders and employees in mutually beneficial means while ensuring a positive culture is spread throughout the organization.  By encouraging leaders, employees and HR to take an active role in changing the culture, all sides will benefit.

Stop by and get to know your HR team members this week, they may be more resourceful than you think.

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Not Another HR Training

Knock, Knock? Who’s there? Another amazing HR training that you are dying to attend! *Person slowly closes the door and turns out the lights! Why does this happen more often than not? When an organization sends out communication and sign-up sheets for required trainings, there is a collective groan from every department.

1458135452141It doesn’t have to be like this. There are ways to improve our training programs and make them more informative, more engaging and more useful. Being a trainer for more than four years now, I have found a love for trainings. I love to see different facilitators, different methods and different styles. I also enjoy seeing what not to do because that makes me a better trainer as well.

Everyone has been to the failed training program. Where nothing goes right, no one is bought into the course material, and nothing is really accomplished. But there are ways to overcome this. Here are my top five things that can help any training:

  1. Practice, practice, practice – If you are lucky enough to have a facilitators guide, practice your material until you know it completely and then add more material to ensure you can answer questions. All great trainers know the material to avoid embarrassment.
  2. Get senior leaders excited – If the boss is interested in it, you should be in love with it. If you can get managers on board with why a training is important, they will be more likely to speak positively about the class and the opportunity to learn something new.
  3. Listen to the participants – The whole reason the training even exists is to teach an employee something new, so listening to their feedback is key. Ask numerous questions to see if participants understand the concepts or, if they are already knowledgeable in the field, to get realistic examples that you may not be able to provide yourself.
  4. Have fun – Participants don’t want to be bored to tears sitting for hours on end waiting for the torture to end. The more participation you can get and the activities you can do, the more engaged the participants will be. For example, role-playing may not be everyone’s thing, but at the end of it people are smiling, it’s not scripted and it gets people out of their seats. The same with ice breakers, which are great ways to start a day or to come back from a break.
  5. Don’t tell them what time lunch is – Once you give people a definitive timeline, their minds go to the clock. It’s great to give an agenda and let people know what topics will be covered, but leave off the timeline.

Here is also a checklist to ensure you are set-up to provide an outstanding course. Trainings can be fun, engaging and most importantly productive if the proactive steps are taken to ensure it’s a great experience for everyone.

Have you ever facilitated a training? Tell me your best practices in the comment section below.

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The Flat Organization… Not Flatter Just Flat

A manager leaves a role and the organization doesn’t fill the position. Responsibilities and tasks are distributed and business continues as normal. Initially, the employees feel the strain of being responsible for more, but eventually, it’s work as usual. Does this sound familiar? Well, this organization is now one level flatter.

Businesses are increasingly adopting or creating a flat organizational structure. The business decides to eliminate management and allow employees to be self-sufficient decisions makers who have access to either a CEO or a few high-level leaders. However, is it possible to completely eliminate leadership at all levels, even the c-suite?

After reading Flat: The New Black? chapter 8 of A World Gone Social by Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt, I think this could become a reality for many businesses and the norm for new organizations. A flat organization takes pride in establishing a culture so rich and expectations so precise that empowered employees can make well-informed decisions, which increases employee engagement and collaboration.

While new companies can simply make this their culture, existing companies will struggle with the political and operational changes this forces on all employees. It will not be a great fit for all companies; however, if competitors switch to this type of structure, it may not be an option, it may be a requirement.  As Coiné and Babbitt note, “Change happens only as the result of insurmountable market pressure” and we are on the cusp (92).

teamwork3When an organization has absolutely zero bosses, like Morning Star, Valve and even the Israeli Army, it has trusts employees to make the right decisions and hire employees who have the motivation and dedication to self-supervise. A flat organization can also have some great benefits, like cost savings with no outrageous salaries and increased innovation due to increased teamwork. Employees will be more involved because it’s their business too.

While I think flatter organizations are more prepared for the future business world, a completely flat organization does’t seem probable for all. Employees are going to want promotions, and if they can’t get them, it may be a dissatisfying.   Organizations will need to have a plan in place to ensure employees are improving and moving forward in their roles. Also, if an industry gets too big, they may need to “behave like a small firm” like W.L. Gore & Associates does as discussed in A World Gone Social (99).

While flat seems promising, organizations have a tendency for natural leaders to surface. Whether it’s the organization’s creator or a CEO, a leader usually influences how the business is ran.  However, I think organizations can get better at encouraging employees to make decisions. Too often business operations are stagnant, managers are spread too thin and employees are frustrated because easy decisions can’t be made by the line-level.  If organizations want to remain competitive, a flatter organization structure will reduce costs while increasing employee engagement.

Would you want to work for a completely flat organization? Do you think your organization could make the transition? Let me know in the comment section below.

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