Category Archives: Staff Leadership

No Passion. No Progress.

Passion makes progress possible.  Employee passion.  Member passion.  Volunteer passion.  A leader’s passion for their teams and for excellence in everything the organization does.   If as leaders we understand the value of engagement what explains so many employees being disengaged from their work?  A recent survey conducted by BlessingWhite has found that fewer than one in three North American workers are fully engaged. Moreover, 19% are completely disengaged, and a further 13% are disillusioned and at risk for becoming disengaged.  What does this mean for your organization?

On the disengaged side of the curve it could mean significant lost revenues, dissatified members and customers, skyrocketing costs and a seriously demoralized workforce incapable or unwilling to respond to an unfolding business crisis.  According to BlessingWhite, disengaged employees are the most disconnected to organizational priorities and are not getting what they need from work. If left alone, people in this group are likely to collect a paycheck and enjoy favorable job conditions but contribute minimally. Some disengaged will leave, but more likely they will just talk about leaving.

On the fully engaged side of the arc, there are a significant number of surveys suggesting higher engagement numbers mean increased profits and earnings per share for corporations.  Engaged employees are contributing fully to the success of the organization, find great satisfaction in their work and bring added effort and initiative to the work at hand.   Almost engaged employees are among the high performers and are reasonably satisfied with their job. These employees deserve attention from management because they they are highly employable and have the shortest distance to travel to reach full engagement.

How much does it matter?  Best Buy reports that a tenth of a point gain in engagement among store employees translates to an additional $100,000 in sales for that store.   Likewise a study by the Society of Human Resource Management examining engaged employees in a manufacturing environment having $63 in safety incident expenses versus an average of $392 for disengaged employees.  There’s value in maximizing engagement and there are excellent tools available for leaders to bring to bear on improving outcomes.  Look to part two of No Passion. No Progress. for more ideas.

Say It Ain't So, Seth!

In a recent SpearTalks interview Seth Godin opined that “Trying to convince a CEO of anything is a little like trying to convince a cop not to give you a ticket. It’s possible, but rarely worth the effort, given the odds.”  Hmmm.

What truly caught my attention was his notion that it is “rarely worth the effort”.  I disagree.  While you may not win the day by pressing your point of view on the CEO, it is equally possible you will stir some sense of consciousness and at the very least spark some discomfort with those long held CEO notions of what works.

By the nature of my work, I engage with dozens of CEO’s on a regular basis.  While they are not easily persuadable, they are in my experience amenable to considering alternatives and with the leverage of solid information even likely to accept and adopt a new perspective.  A recent discussion with a CEO about the potential and value of social media illustrates the point.  Initially, she seemed to miss the value proposition of social media entirely.  Her basic position simplified was “who needs it!”  When I persisted by pointing out that the younger managers on her staff had likely been using Facebook to communicate with friends and colleagues since before their high school days, she seemed to grasp the idea.  Her questions flew fast and furious.  Who controls it?  Who operates these sites?  How much time does this require?  What resources do we need to implement it?  What are the risks?  Is there a measurable ROI? 

When I reminded her that that someone else could easily start up a company page if she didn’t, the lights went on and someone was now clearly at home in her decision tree.  Seth’s right in saying it doesn’t always work, but I’d argue given the right fight, it’s worth the rare effort still.

Making Senior Staff Meetings Effective and Efficient

I have never worked a day in my life. When I’ve done my job well, neither has my senior staff. Before you rush to send me your résumé, let me be clear. The “feel” of work is what’s missing here. That doesn’t mean we aren’t crazy busy, over-stimulated, or experiencing the sensations of being overwhelmed by the tasks required to sustain the mission of the organization. It’s just that when we’re at our best, our activities simply lack the gritty feel of work.

That’s the essence of effective senior staff leadership: leveraging available resources, focusing on mission, and making sure everyone contributes to the success of the enterprise. These three keys make all else possible.  Regular senior staff meetings sustain fidelity to mission and by extension serve to engage the minds, spirit, and energy for the successful achievement of organizational goals and outcomes.

If we accept that human capital is our most vital (and expensive) competitive advantage, then actively engaging every team member is essential to success. Conveying to every staff member the expectation and understanding that their ideas and opinions matter and are essential to the success and functioning of the organization is a significant force multiplier. Executives can lead by example, asking insightful questions, making certain senior staff are sharing with their teams and that everyone both understands and “feels” the value of their contributions. It’s not only smart, but essential to effective and efficient senior staff meetings.  You can gather some additional ideas from Making Senior Staff Meetings Effective & Efficient found on the Neoterica website.