Tag Archive for: employee engagement

Q12 Engagement Survey: Who is Responsible?

The Q12 Talent Engagement Audit

The Gallup Q12 (https://q12.gallup.com) is a survey designed to measure employee engagement. The instrument was the result of hundreds of focus groups and interviews. Researchers found that there were 12 key expectations that when satisfied, form the foundation of strong feelings of engagement. So far more than 90,000 work units and 1.7+ million employees have participated in the Q12 instrument.

Comparisons of engagement scores reveal that those with high Q12 scores exhibit lower turnover, higher sales growth, better productivity, better customer loyalty and other manifestations of superior performance.

The Gallup organization also uses the Q12 as a semi-annual employee engagement Index – a random sampling of employees across the country.

The engagement index slots people into one of three categories:

  • Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their organization and their work.
  • Not-Engaged employees are essentially “checked out.” They are sleepwalking through their workday. They are putting in time, but not enough energy or passion into their work (“Quit and stay”).
  • Destructively Disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged co-workers accomplish.

The Q12 Index

  • Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  • Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  • At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  • In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  • Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  • At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  • Does the mission/purpose of your organization make you feel your job is important?
  • Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  • Do you have a best friend at work?
  • In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  • In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

The limitation of the Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement Survey (https://q12.gallup.com) is that it only measures half of the equation: the manager’s responsibility to build an engaging relationship with their employees and to foster an engaging workplace culture. The Q12 Talent Engagement Audit below, adapted from Gallup’s Q12, measures the employee’s responsibility to build an engaging organizational culture.

Take an honest inventory of yourself in the following areas to assess your level of personal responsibility and commitment to do your part as an employee to build a workplace culture that is worth working in.

  • Have you clarified with your boss what is expected?
  • Have you clearly and respectfully asked for the resources you need to do your work right?
  • At work, have you created the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  • In the last seven days, have you given recognition or praise to your colleagues for doing good work? How about to yourself?
  • Does your supervisor, or someone at work, know that you care about them as a person?
  • Is there someone at work who you encourage in their development?
  • Have you earned the credibility so that your opinions seem to count?
  • Does your own personal purpose make you feel your job is important?
  • Are you committed to doing quality work?
  • Have you taken the time to create a good friendship at work?
  • In the last six months, have you taken the responsibility to talk with your boss about your progress?
  • In the last year, have you had created opportunities to learn and grow?

What do you need to continue doing to sustain your commitment to 100% responsibility for the culture you work in?

What do you need to start doing to take more responsibility for the culture you work in?

What support do you need? Who will help hold you accountable?


Employee Engagement Surveys Are Not The Whole Story

I’m not against employee engagement surveys. I’m just not in favor or our over-reliance on them for an accurate picture of what’s really going in a culture. Reading your employee engagement surveys is like reading a newspaper or watching the news. It’s interesting, but it’s not the whole picture.

It’s a small spectrum of what’s happening. You get a sense of what’s going on, but you always have to go further if you want an accurate picture. There are very reputable organizations, like Hewitt Associates for example, that help provide a rigorous outside perspective of  your culture. Here are some suggestions for getting a more accurate, complete temperature reading of your culture:

  1. Don’t rely on surveys alone to do the job. You also have to get out of your office, wander around, and be in touch with people. Ask people how they’re doing. Ask people what they need. And then listen to what they’re saying. If you use the excuse that “people aren’t honest with you when you do that,” that’s a good indication you haven’t been out of your office enough to build trust. Tom Peters had it right three decades ago when he wrote “In Search of Excellence.” Leaders need to be out of their office about 50% of the time or they just aren’t leading.
  2. Shorten your surveys. People are getting surveyed out. I’ve seen employees answer inaccurately because they are angry about having to do so many surveys! Dr. Theresa M. Welbourne (www.eepulse.com) is designing employee engagement and 360 Feedback surveys that take three minutes to complete. I believe that you can get pretty much all the information you need in about three minutes. Dr. Welborne might just be on to something.
  3. You don’t have to survey everyone to get an accurate picture. Television ratings are not determined by calling every single person watching TV. Pick a good cross section of people to survey and give people a break. Switch it up so you aren’t addressing the same people every time you hand out a survey.
  4. Never ask a question about something you don’t know how to fix and/or you aren’t prepared to fix. Every survey question implies a promise that  you are going to take action based on the answers you get. And if you break that promise, things will get ugly. I like Mark Murphy’s (Leadership IQ) experiment as an example of how this works. Tonight at home, make some popcorn. Then ask your spouse if they want some and when they say “yes” just ignore them. Now multiply that by a few thousand and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

What’s your experience with employee engagement surveys? I’m open for learning.

Employee Engagement In Economic Uncertainty

The recent economic slowdown has created great uncertainty for businesses and, adding to the pressure, are the debates regarding how much oil and gas companies will be affected and in what way. What we can be certain about is that employers that consciously manage their work culture and employee engagement during times of uncertainty will position themselves to take advantages of opportunities in the face of obstacles.Why is it business critical for organizations to invest in a great work culture, especially now?

Demographics alone point to a continued trend of labor shortages due to an aging workforce, especially in in-demand occupations.

Many oil companies have long service employees whose experience is deep technically and broad in terms of institutional knowledge and intelligence. Many of these long-term employees will be eligible to retire soon, and statistics show us that as a population ages we see increases in short term vs. long term employment. It is more important than ever for oil companies to have a strong workplace culture to both attract, retain and engage employees to transition their knowledge and experience to the next generation of workers.

Additionally, Statistics Canada stated that in 2011, the percentage of working-age Canadians in the labour force is expected to peak. In other words, beginning in 2012, the number of workers leaving the labour force is already exceeding the number of new entrants and labour shortages continues to be an on-going concern. This trend is expected to continue. Employees, especially those in in-demand occupations, will continue to have choice. Employers need to evaluate the long-term risks associated with an aging workforce, recognizing that the skills and experience they need in the future may not be readily available.

In times of slowing economies, the mantra of leading employers becomes how to stabilize and engage employees in a highly proactive, productive way. The practices of attraction, retention, engagement and how employers manage their culture and employees still apply.

In our experience, there are several shifts in emphasis that will ensure success:

Engaged employees see themselves as “owners” not “tenants or renters” of an organization.

Employers who are dedicated to employee engagement provide them with a framework of accountability, so they know not only ‘what’ they are expected to do but ‘how’ (what behaviors will get them there). Employers who foster a culture of personal responsibility where employees feel a part of the whole (“we” vs “they”) during times of stress can leverage collective intelligence to work through real work challenges.

Engage employees to make the best use of their skills and abilities.

Many employers make the mistake of assuming employees will be happy with just having a job vs. utilizing their strengths in the right job. Keeping people busy is not synonymous with real engagement and productivity.

Engage employees to realize future success – use the wisdom of the many over the ideas of a few.

Involve employees in problem solving to address current business challenges. This approach goes hand in hand with the theme of open communication as employers need to be open about current business challenges in order to be successful in this engagement strategy. It ultimately provides employees a sense of control over their own future and the future of the company. The leading edge employer who adopts this approach will not only attract and retain the best employees but will become highly productive and well positioned for future opportunities when others are struggling to survive.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Timely, consistent communication of what employers know and especially what they don’t know, removes the ‘cloak of secrecy’ and creates an environment of trust, so that employees are confident that leaders will provide the truth. In the absence of open transparent information employees will draw their own conclusions, often fearing the worst.

Effective communication in times of uncertainty is not just about making timely announcements or the distribution of information. Genuine two-way communication that leads to productive employee engagement and mutual trust has a grassroots “water cooler” conversational quality to it. It is about listening, not surveying, paying attention, not getting attention. In many ways, employee engagement is less about the information you provide and more about what you draw out of your employees.

Employee engagement is also about managing the work culture and environment.

Uncertainty is stressful. When people are stressed, they can feel threatened, which often results in behaviors that counter a productive workforce.  Therefore, it is important for organizations to be vigilant in reinforcing a mutually respectful workplace during times of uncertainty.
Most companies have spent the last few years trying to find ways to become the “Culture of Choice” and retain and leverage the best in their talent pool. Economic downturns always test employers in this quest.  Now more than ever is the time to implement an employee engagement and productivity strategy.

Irvine & Associates Inc. provides training and consulting solutions to assist employers with employee engagement by creating a vibrant accountable culture resulting in delivery of real time business results.

Employee Engagement: What’s Making Us So Unhappy?

When getting to the nature of human performance and well being it is important to understand the relationship between three vital words: 1) Achievement; 2) Expectation; and 3) Happiness.

Happiness results when our achievements meet our expectations. If you come to work, for example, with the expectation of your boss is “100,” and your boss achieves an “80,” then we say you will be “20% unhappy” with your boss.

If, on the other, you have an expectation of your boss of “80,” and you she hits “100,” then you will be “125% happy” with her.

Now what happens when this same boss, who meets the expectations of one employee, yet doesn’t meet the expectations of another employee? One employee will be happy. The other will be unhappy. Maybe the problem isn’t the boss. Maybe the problem is the nature of our expectations.

People these days bring enormously high expectations to work, but also to all their relationships. We are, frankly, all pretty spoiled. The more we get in this society, the more we expect. Look at the result:

  • In Canada, 47.1 million prescriptions for antidepressants were filled by retail drugstores in 2014, representing sales totally $1.91 billion. 11% of all men, women, and children in our society are on antidepressants.

According to a recent Gallop poll:

  • 70% of Canadians are “unhappy,” “not engaged” at work;
  • 6/10 employees intend to pursue new job opportunities somewhere else in the next year, and 2/10 say “maybe” and are working toward it.

It appears to be human nature that the more we get, the more we expect. In academic language this means that we are spoiled. Research will bear it out that the societies with the lowest GNP are often the societies with the happiest people. If you have travelled much you know that the people around the world who are the poorest are often happier than people in this country that have so much? Why are they happy? They are likely happy because their expectations are lower. They aren’t always striving for something better. There’s something to be said about simply being satisfied with what we have.

While I’m all in favor of boss’s continuing to learn and develop ways to create environments that engage people, I know some people who could walk on water for their employees and they still won’t be happy. This is because most people who are unhappy at work aren’t just unhappy at work. They are unhappy with all aspects of their lives. They achievement is low and their expectations are high. That’s a good formula for unhappiness. And no amount of “employee engagement programs” are going to turn that around.

Let’s all look at ourselves when it comes to employee engagement. It’s a shared responsibility. Yes, positional leaders have a responsibility. But so do employees. It starts by looking in the mirror.

How is your own personal relationship between 1) Achievement (e.g. How committed are you? What are your own goals? How much responsibility are you taking for your own level of achievement; 2) Expectations (e.g. How realistic are your expectations of your boss? How much responsibility are you taking to meet your own expectations? And 3) Happiness (e.g. How does the answers to these questions affect your level of satisfaction and enjoyment – at work and away from work?

How much responsibility are you taking for your own happiness? How much is your unhappiness affected by your unrealistic expectations of others – independent of what your boss does? How much are you willing to give rather than expect?). It was my father who taught me that you get what you give, not what you expect.

Smart Vs. Healthy: Unlocking Your Organization’s Potential

What would you rather be: smart or healthy? Do you know a smart person who is not reaching their potential because of poor health? You can be brilliant, but if you are depressed, sick, or suffering from low energy, chronic pain, or inflexibility, your capacity will be diminished. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, health is one of the true sources of wealth. Without it, fulfillment is not impossible, but extremely difficult.

In his superb book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, Patrick Lencioni makes an intriguing distinction between a smart organization and a healthy organization. Like people, organizations can be smart, but if they aren’t healthy, their capability will be weakened.

Smart organizations focus on:

  • Strategy
  • Expediency
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Technology,

Healthy organizations are about:

  • Minimizing Politics
  • Trust
  • Creating clarity
  • Morale
  • Employee Engagement
  • Energy
  • Holding people accountable to high standards.

“Smart” and “healthy” are equally vital to success, both personally and organizationally. It’s just that many organizations I work with are over-focused on “smart” at the expense of health.

Personal health is primarily about discipline and habits. And just as we have to take care of our personal health, we have to take care of the health of our culture, regardless of our position within the culture. Here is a list of disciplines that you can take accountability for in order to foster organizational health:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team. Whether it’s executive leaders, a board of directors, or parents, the relationships at the senior level set the tone for a healthy culture. Like a marriage, a leadership team needs concerted effort and time – away from the operations – to get to know each other, to learn about what matters most to each person, and to foster connection.
  2. Create clarity. Have an inspiring mission for why you exist and an uplifting vision for where you are taking people. Get clear about your values, how you expect people to behave. Get clear about what you expect from people and take the time to communicate these expectations. Clarify your most important priorities – your vital few – rather than your demanding many. Clarity breeds health.
  3. Make building trust your number one leadership priority. Identify your “significant seven” stakeholders – the people who you depend on and the people who depend on you. Spend at least half your time investing in these relationships. Listen for and clarify concerns. Connect to reality. Pay attention. Be in touch. Get to know people. Make contact. Listen for concerns. Remove barriers. Spend time coaching and mentoring. Bring a “servant mindset” to your work.
  4. Hold people accountable. “Everyone on a team knows who is and who is not performing and they are looking to you as the leader to see what you are going to do about it,” said Collin Powell, former US Secretary of State. Letting bacteria grow in a culture eventually turns to poison. A healthy organization is one with high standards, the courage to have the difficult conversations, and the nerve to make the tough decisions. There are many reasons why managers don’t hold people accountable, and I’ll address these, along with strategies to overcome these reasons, in future articles.
  5. Time for reflection. Healthy people consistently make room for reflection: on their lives, their work, and their priorities. Take a moment and reflect on the current level of health in your organization. Ask yourself what disciplines you need to start incorporating into your work and your life. If you reach inside, chances are you will find your own answers as to what it takes for you to have a healthy workplace and life.
  6. Come to work healthy. A healthy organization starts with healthy people. We don’t experience the world as it is. We experience the world as we are. An organizational mission statement will have much more meaning for you when you have a sense of your own mission. Organizational values will mean much more to you when you are committed to live by your own code of conduct. When you are healthy, you naturally foster health around you. “Be the change you wish for in the world.”