Tag Archive for: leadership development

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?


The Essential Matters – What Is Your Reason For Being?

Last month I was meeting with a group of very talented managers in a debrief session for an event I facilitated in December. We were discussing, among other things, employee engagement when one of the leaders said that what he learned in my session is that employee engagement can be boiled down to one word: authenticity. When people are authentic, they are engaged. They are committed to their own development and they are committed to bring to bring value to others.

Authenticity is about being the person you were created to be and bringing more of that self to what you do. When you are working in an environment that supports and encourages you to be authentic, you are naturally going to be engaged, empowered, and loyal. Authentic leadership is ultimately about discovering your own authentic nature and then creating a culture that enables others to discover and express theirs. It’s that simple and it’s that complex.

A helpful way to express, in practical terms, what it means to be authentic was shown to me by an authentic leader I worked with last year. The focus of my work with his organization was to help him build a stronger, more aligned, high-performing organizational culture. After the workshop he emailed me a diagram of Ikigai (生き甲斐), a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an Ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self and answering three fundamental questions:

  1. What do you love? Pay attention to your energy. Energy is a good indicator of what you love. We are energized by things we love and depleted by things we don’t. Leaders are the stewards of organizational energy. Leaders inspire or demoralize others by how they mobilize, focus, invest, and renew the collective energy of those they serve. To be aware of how your energy affects those around you, it’s important to pay attention to your own energy. How do you feel when you are doing certain things? Is it natural for you or are you trying to imitate somebody? What activities drain you? What activities fill you up? What work would you do if you weren’t paid to do it? What is your passion? What do you love?
  2. What are you good at? You can become good at many things with repetitive actions and thoughts, but this question is asking you to look deeper inside yourself to discover a yearning that is in need of expression. We all have unique talents and gifts. Whether these come easily or not, there is a longing within us to be expressed. It might require developing or it may come naturally. Just as good leadership is about fitting people, not fixing people, when you are doing what you are good at, it fits, not fixes who you are. Discovering what you are good at emerges from asking yourself questions like, “What have you been yearning for? What do you desire intensely to do? What do you do well – that you don’t remember learning? What are your strengths? What are your gifts?”
  3. What does the world need? What is the world asking of you? Where in the world do you feel needed? Perhaps, through your own experiences of grief or compassion you have found a capacity to reach others. Or maybe you see an opportunity to provide a service that is in high demand in the marketplace. Even if you can’t find your passion or your gifts, what the world needs is for you to be at peace with yourself so you can bring peace to the world – a positive, caring attitude to whatever you do. The world needs whatever you can contribute today. Above all, the world needs a generous spirit.

In the upcoming year, set aside some time away from the crushing wave of demands of daily life, to search for and gain some clarity about your Ikigai – your authentic self. Set aside some time every week to reflect, write in a journal, and ask yourself some of these questions. Take a course and explore a hidden passion;  create an authentic community – a coach, mentor, therapist, support group, or confidants – to help guide you to the truth about yourself and what you most desire to bring to the world. Don’t be concerned if you don’t get complete clarity. This is an ongoing, life-long process. What is important is persistent attention. Living authentically is a journey, not a destination.

In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, the Austrian poet and novelist:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart.  Try to love the questions themselves.  Do not seek the answers which cannot be given because you would not be able to live them.

And the point is to live everything, live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answers.

Humanizing Our Workplace: Leading With Care Rather Than Fear

A long-time client told me a few weeks ago that his first task, as a recently hired manager in a power company, was to “humanize” the plant. When I asked what he meant by this, he explained that he was brought in to change the culture from one that was described as “management by chopping people’s heads off” to “leadership through respect.”

“How are you going to do that?” I asked him.

“I’m not quite sure, to be honest,” he replied. “I’ve only been here a couple of months and so far most of what I’ve been doing is wandering around, asking questions, observing the operation, and learning about the plant and what people do here. This has given me a chance to open up with the employees, have them get to know me a bit, and have me share some of my expectations and my approaches to leadership.”

He then told me about an employee he had taken aside so he could acknowledge the quality of the employee’s work, his attention to detail, and the example he was setting for his team through a strong work ethic and positive attitude. After hearing this honest feedback the employee fell silent. With tears in his eyes he responded, “In my twenty-five years working at this plant, you are the first person to tell me I’m doing something right.”

Humanizing our workplace isn’t about gimmicks or fads. It’s about respecting ourselves enough to show genuine respect for others. It means creating a caring environment and embracing a commitment to help people grow, just as much as it means getting good results. Humanizing our workplace is about creating a space where people feel safe to be who they are. It’s a sustaining, simple, down-to-earth philosophy that liberates us from “chopping people’s heads off” to focusing on what really matters. In short, it isn’t about being right; it’s about being real.

The word organization comes from the word “organ.” Organizations aren’t machines that can be managed like a piece of equipment or with a technical procedure. Organizations, at their core, are about heart, soul, and human beings. Work has to provide opportunities for personal growth, as well as financial growth. If it doesn’t, we are spending far too much of our lives there with far too few rewards.

While there are no rules for humanizing our workplace, below are ten guidelines that may help you in your journey to make your organization a more human place for everyone.

  1. Resist the tendency to manage by email. Humans need face-to-face contact. Get out on the floor. Walk around. Ask questions. Your purpose isn’t to be interesting. It’s far more important to beinterested. If you can’t get people face-to-face, at least pick up the phone and talk to them. Emails, furthermore, can be a black hole that consumes your whole day. So set boundaries around your computer time.
  2. Pay attention. One primary difference between a boss and a leader is that bosses “know” while leaders “learn.” There is a time for certainty, when we must tell people what needs to be done. But true leaders spend much of their time listening and watching. They make a point of learning. Tom Peters tells us that the four most important words in the English language are, “What do you think?” Employees can teach us a great deal when we slow down and listen to them, when we ask them what they think. Humanizing our organizations means paying attention to what people need and to the impact our actions have on others, and when we notice our own mistakes. Paying attention is about self-awareness, humility, and gratitude. When we are sincere, four additional words that will never let us down are, “I’m sorry” and “thank you.”
  3. Take care of yourself. Caring about others has to come from overflow and not emptiness. Caring about ourselves means having consistent habits that ensure we are taking care of what matters most to us: our health, our most important relationships, our own development, and our sense of inner peace and well-being. We won’t get respect from others if we don’t respect ourselves. We can’t jumpstart anyone else unless our own battery is charged.
  4. Make your expectations clear. Humanity in the workplace means clarity. It’s disheartening for people to go home at the end of a day, not knowing if they’ve met their boss’s expectations. Be clear with people. Tell them what you expect. Tell them the standards you have, not just for operational results, but also the kind of attitude you expect to see, in concrete, behavioral terms.
  5. Be sure that support follows your expectations. There’s nothing wrong with expecting a lot from people. Just be sure that with every expectation comes an equal commitment to provide support. Make sure that your people have the resources to do what you are asking of them. It’s inhuman to expect something from someone when they don’t have the ability to do it, and there’s no commitment to support them.
  6. Be honest. Honesty is the single most important attribute in a leader’s relationship with employees and fellow workers. Honesty means acknowledging people’s good efforts. But to really care about someone we also have to be willing to say, “Bob, I care about you and about your work, and I have to tell you that you aren’t performing as well as you need to get the job done.” Humanizing the workplace means setting standards and applying them equitably and individually and firmly. Following through on consequences, even if it means firing someone, is an act of caring if it’s done with clarity, honesty, and respect.
  7. Don’t just push harder. When my computer doesn’t do what I want it to, I often just push the keys harder. Pushing harder doesn’t work with computers and it doesn’t work with human beings. When things aren’t working we have to step back and take time to understand, re-clarify, and develop a new plan of action.
  8. It’s about creating value. I learned years ago to first bring value to others before expecting something from them. This principle applies to every relationship, from selling a consulting contract, to getting a job, to earning a team’s trust. Humanizing our workplace starts with a continual commitment to finding out what’s important to people and adding value to their life.
  9. Be the source. My mother used to say, “Be careful what you give to the world because whatever you give will come back to you.” If we bring negativity, disrespect, and animosity to our job, that’s what we get back. Start giving to others what you expectfrom others. If you feel you aren’t getting acknowledgement for your hard work, get so busy giving others recognition that you won’t have time to feel sorry for yourself. George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright and philosopher, reminds us “this is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”
  10. If you don’t care about people, do yourself and your organization a favor and get out of management. I say this with absolutely no disrespect to anyone. Just be honest with yourself. If you don’t have any desire to bring humanity and caring to your job, if dealing with people is too stressful, save yourself a heart attack and other people a lot of heartache and step down from the arduous job of management.

From New Year’s Resolutions To New Year’s Renewal

Making New Year’s resolutions is for those interested in growing, being a better person, and improving themselves. New Year’s is a good time for taking an inventory of our lives to discover where changes need to be made. Just as the fiscal year end of a business  provides an opportunity to take an inventory of stock, a new year provides an opportunity to take stock of our lives. It’s a good time to celebrate successes from the past year, reestablish intentions for the new year, evaluate your life, and set goals for the future. This is a ritual I have done at the close of each year and opening to the next, for many many years now.

Here is some of my thinking about New Year’s resolutions for you to reflect on…

  1. Whatever you call it – resolutions, goals, habits – make sure they are yours. Make sure that your intentions are authentically yours, not someone elses. Resist that natural indication to compare and conform with others. Joy in life comes from being true to who you are meant to be. If you are trying to keep up with the Jones, sooner or later they will refinance! One way to ensure that your resolutions will last no longer than a few weeks is to make them out of guilt or inadequacy or inferiority, rather than an honest desire to make a change in your life that comes from within you.
  2. Before making any kind of resolution for change, be sure to celebrate the past year. There’s a correlation between those who make resolutions and those who are hard on themselves. It’s always easier to find areas that need changing than to find areas that need celebrating. Make it a point to bring gratitude and recognition of progress into your new year’s resolutions.
  3. Along with celebration, bring kindness and patience – for yourself and for others. Life can be difficult, but it’s a lot easier with compassion. A new life is much more likely to grow in the soft, rich soil of compassion than in the rocky ground of judgement. As Thich Nhat Hanh beautifully expresses, “Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with the eyes of compassion.” When you think of compassion, think first of yourself. This is where true compassion starts.
  4. Before making any kind of resolution, ask if you are actually committed to change or if you simply making a resolution because that’s what you do this time of year. There’s nothing wrong with not making a resolution if there’s nothing in your life you want to change right now. And there’s nothing wrong with a resolution for the sake of a resolution. Just be honest when you find yourself “off track” in the middle of January. Don’t make a promise to change if you aren’t ready. Whenever you break an agreement, either with yourself or with others, you erode your self-respect.
  5. If you are serious about making changes in your life, find a mentor, someone who will guide you, support you, and hold you accountable along the way. From my experience, you will never make changes in your life alone. You’ll only create discouragement.
  6. Take an inventory of what “growth” means to you. Be careful about defining growth as simply “more” or “bigger.” “Bigger” isn’t always better. “More” isn’t always satisfying. Think about growth as qualitative not just quantitative. Just because you lose weight doesn’t mean your life will be better. Just because you make more money doesn’t mean you will be happier. Peace is reflected in your relationship to the present moment, experiencing the beauty and magnificence that surrounds you now. Quality of life will sustain you in a way that quantity never will.
  7. Whatever changes you decide to make in your life, make room for rest, renewal, and delight in your busy life. In the relentless busyness of modern life, we probably all need to rediscover the rhythm between work and rest. The only life form that doesn’t rest is cancer. A truly successful life is one of balance, perspective, and presence.

“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year,” writes G.K. Chesterton. “It is that we should have a new soul.” As you let go of last year may you enter the new with a renewed energy that is fresh and vital. Be good to yourself, and be well this new year.

The Annual Review: Assess and Refocus

I took a couple of days between Christmas and New Years for my annual inventory of the past year and to clarify my key priorities for the coming year. I always get inspired and find it valuable to review my successes and mistakes of the past year, and then carefully and thoughtfully examine my priorities for the coming year.

In 2010, I will be writing a new book on organizational culture – an area that I am passionate about these days. I’ll be continuing to develop my strengths, deepening and renewing the material that I bring to the marketplace, and finding new ways to add value to my clients. A great idea from a little book I read over the holidays called “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader,” by John Maxwell, was to think about how you can add value to five people this year. They can be family members, colleagues, employees, or friends. Now that’s a good goal. Especially when they get surprised. I’ll also be continuing my Yoga practice and staying healthy. And I’ll be focusing on being a little more present each moment to the amazing blessings that surround me. I am loved and I can love. What else really matters?

Holidays, Rest, and Renewal

A coaching session with an executive earlier this week reminded me that this time of year is so hectic: social obligations, family commitments, shopping malls, company parties. Is it really meant to be so crazy? Our family has made it a habit to stop, reflect, and design the holidays in a way that is right for us. Life – and time – is getting too precious to spend it on obligations that are not in alignment with our deepest values. I’ve lived enough of my life under other people’s conditions, and am learning to be true to myself.

For me, the season is about four things:

  1. Rest – from a very busy fall;
  2. Relationships – with people that matter the most to me;
  3. Reflection – an inventory of 2010 and goal setting for 2011;
  4. Renewal – time to do what we love to do: playing games as a family, spending time outdoors, catching up on some reading, being still, and just hanging out.

I have learned that one of the keys to a full life is to say “no” to the wrong opportunities. No better time to test and practice this than during the holiday season. Learning this is still a work in progress.

I feel enormous gratitude for my blessed life. I hope you will take time to design this holiday in a way that is true to you, and I wish you and your loved ones the greatest blessing of all: inner peace.