Performance Management Company Blog

Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Tag: employee involvement

“Spring Forward Monday” For Workplace Improvement

Monday’s, most typically, are the least favorite day of the work week but the Monday following the Daylight Saving’s “spring forward” time change, arguably, should be considered the worst of Mondays being that people find it even more challenging to face this workday since they are still adjusting to having lost an hour from their lives the day before. According to numerous studies, the attitudes and happenings around this lost hour cause this Monday to be particularly low in workplace productivity.

What might you be doing to counteract the loss of productivity that will most likely occur in your workplace on Monday, March 14, 2016?

Square Wheels Spring Forward Monday with feet and plane 1

At Performance Management Company, we’re always looking for opportunities that can bring about employee engagement and workplace improvement for better organizational success. Realizing that Monday, March 14th is that special kind of day that needs a good reason for getting up and going to work, we’ve got a concept and solution for turning it into a rewarding workplace happening day and we’re calling it,

Spring Forward Monday!

What is the Spring Forward Monday Concept?

Managers and leaders can gather their employees together and seize Monday, March 14, 2016, as day for workplace improvement by inviting ideas, innovation and involvement for improving workplace practices. By doing so, people can get away from their desks and become energized by taking part in a process that can make a positive difference for everyone.

How Can You Do This?

It’s simple. Facilitate a session that will stimulate and engage employees in sharing their perspectives and ideas for making a better workplace. Doing so will give them a feeling of empowerment and an opportunity to create improvements and increased workplace happiness.

If you’d like a way to successfully approach this, we designed The Stupidly Simple Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit for just this type of occasion with everything needed to create an interactive and engaging session with serious outcomes. The gist of this Toolkit is the Square Wheels One illustration that elegantly generates thinking, creativity and humor as people react to it and its lead-in statement, This is how most organizations really work.”

Here’s a quick, illustrated video showcasing 
how facilitating
Spring Forward Monday 
in your workplace will cause people to 
“Wake up and Energize for Improvements.” 

You can purchase this Toolkit here for only $24.95, for a one-time cost with unlimited use with any number of people.

This Toolkit provides both the original black and white line-art Square Wheels One illustration and the new Lego image of Square Wheels One
giving you the choice of using either version.
Square Wheels One - copyright 1993, Performance Management CompanySquare Wheels image using LEGO by Scott Simmerman
Here’s what’s included in Toolkit:
  • The Square Wheels One illustration (in both the original line-art and its Lego image)
  • A Leader’s Guide for facilitating the session
  • Participant Worksheets/Handouts
  • A collection of Square Wheels Lego Posters that can be hung in the workplace as anchors to the insights gained.

All yours for only $24.95!

Whether you choose to use this Toolkit or prefer to consider another way to approach the Spring Forward Monday concept, it surely makes sense to make a difference in everyone’s present and future workdays through involving them and energizing them in the journey forward.

Make Monday, March 14, 2016 your
Spring Forward Monday!

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games Scott small picand organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on themes of People and Performance is here.

We CANNOT expect involvement and engagement if we play the Blame Frame Game

How can we motivate people when we make them defensive? How can we expect innovation and process improvement if we are not actually encouraging people to share their thoughts and try new things?

Attack creates defensiveness; and appraisal and constructive criticism can certainly represent an attack in the perception of the workers:

Defense with © Square Wheels Image

If we ask managers how they manage, they tend to give all the right answers. But is that really their tendency to act and perform in reality?

Maybe. In the “Keeping Things Simple – Involving and Engaging” blog, I shared this cartoon that we call, “Trial and Error”.

square wheels image of Trial and Error

When we ask them to comment on the illustration, they tend to focus on what is wrong, rather than what else might be done, The ratio of negative to positive is about 8 : 1 and, if anything, the peer support appears more clearly in reactions to the different negative themes.

In other words, eight comments focused on the negative and what they did wrong for every one good thing the managers might spot, such as they are stepping back and looking for more improvements and that the horse, will in reality push a wagon.

Mothers usually call this “constructive criticism,” but I am not sure what good purpose it serves to continually point out what people are doing wrong, “even if it is for your own good.” as we so often hear as kids and teenagers (and workers, in so many instances!).

What the managers tend to do looks like this:

and this will not serve to improve motivation or make things better. If anything, this blame frame will make innovation harder and decrease the likelihood of people trying to be involved and engaged.

Note they this work team added a horse to the situation — more horsepower, as it were — and a definite paradigm shift. And YOU probably have not considered whether this might actually work. What if the next step simply looked like this:

ALL of us need to focus more on the innovative steps to improvement and the reality that change is a requirement in the workplace. So is support and encouragement — every book on leadership will comment on that but that is not congruent with the behavior of many managers.

Improvement is a continuous process, one that requires celebration of what is accomplished and continued reflection on possibilities and potential shifts in resource utilization. One might think that there is a train in their future?

Note – clicking on the images will take you to some different, related posts.

For the FUN of It!

Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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On Teamwork, Trial and Error Improvement, and Blame Frames

Organizational improvement and teamwork. The ideas are pretty simple but the reality of actually designing and implementing workplace improvement tends to be a little difficult. When we add in issues of corporate power and politics, of sensitivities to criticism and perceived failures, and the framework of collaboration between departments to get things done differently, it looks a bit more like this:

Mud and Square Wheels image

And, organizationally, it can sometimes look like this:

Square Wheels and competition

In the “Keeping Things Simple – Involving and Engaging” blog, I shared a cartoon that we call, “Trial and Error”:

square wheels image of Trial and Error

Take a moment and look at the above image and react to what you see before moving on, please. Just consider what might be happening with the people and their workplace.

When I show this illustration to managers and ask for their reactions, we generally get a ratio of about 8 negative reactions to each positive one. In other words, eight reactions focused on the negative and what the people in the cartoon did wrong for every one positive thing about the situation. This is often called “constructive criticism,” but I am not sure what good it serves to continually point out what others are doing wrong. It does not build teamwork or increase engagement and it serves to smash down any intrinsic motivation that might have been occurring.

Managers should be trained to look for business improvement opportunities and to look for things that can be improved. This serves solid business purposes. But when this gets expressed as Non-Support for Change and Risk-Taking, we cannot expect others to just go along with that.

What we commonly see looks like this:

We embed the good with the blame and the people are more likely to run over the top of the hill and hide than come back to the wagon and continue to make improvements. Sure, their first attempt was pretty quirky and maybe they missed an idea or two about how they could get things done better.

But they also added a horse to the situation — more horsepower, as it were. And YOU probably have not considered whether this might actually work. What if the next step simply looked like this:

Square Wheels images by Scott Simmerman

The Round Wheels are in the wagon. Carrot’s, too!

Allow people to do things and celebrate their successes.

Square Wheels Celebration Haiku good ideas

Improvement is a continuous process, one that requires celebration of what is accomplished and continued reflection on possibilities and potential shifts in resource utilization. One might think that there is a train in their future?

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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What does a Russian Lyrical Poet have to do with Workplace Motivation and Engagement?

In this post, I wax philosophic about a suicidal Russian poet and depression and share some thoughts on workplace motivation and issues of involvement. It starts out tough but, hopefully, you’ll find the ending more uplifting.

———

Sergei Yesenin 1922 Sergei Yesenin was a lyrical Russian poet around the turn of the last century, who wrote about the depression and difficulty he saw in the world around him. He might be the best known of all the Russian poets based on a couple of websites. I saw this reference to him in a poem in a novel I read this week:

The moon will float up into the sky,
dropping the oars into the water.
As ever, Russia will get by,
and dance and weep in every quarter

and that got me looking up information in Wikipedia and TheInkBrain, which has an extensive biography. His last poem, “Goodbye my friend, goodbye,” was written at age 30 and done in his own blood just before he committed suicide in 1925. They are beautiful but often sad writings and the view of the world of which he writes is engaging– he starts with writings about love and the meaning of life while his latter works take on a much less positive view of the world around him. Depressing and hopeless…

But no longer wake me up at sunrise,
As you used to do eight years ago.  
Do not waken dreams no longer precious,
Hope never fulfilled do not excite.

Somehow, my thoughts around this led to my thinking about the new, involved and enthusiastic employee who is often found to succumb to the dreary realities of so many workplaces and whose motivation and energy eventually tends to norm downward — regression to the mean, the average of that workplace. For me, it is about the existing opportunities that are there to be realized and what might be possible versus the sad reality of what too often happens for so many people in the workplace in that they don’t continue to feel involved and motivated. We can do things differently; we can make better choices.

One of the biggest challenges we face as managers in organizations is the mental health of our people and their ability and desire to work in teams and to be productive and innovative. If they simply drift toward their perceived reality of few real opportunities for personal improvement, we will not see the impact that I think we want. Lots of people have difficulties working and being involved and engaged in the day-to-day opportunities, based on many studies done around issues of engagement and motivation. Why do we keep doing things the same way?

In a relatively recent study, The Ken Blanchard Company found that while 70% of employees wanted to converse with their manager about their goals and tasks, only 28% of leaders actually tended to have those kinds of conversations with their people. This same study also found that more than 80% of leaders don’t listen to their employees, something that we have read in the literature since, well, the turn of the century! Some things just do not seem to change. The study found that 64% of employees want to use meeting time with their bosses to solve workplace problems while 19% report that they rarely or never have those conversations.  Sixty four percent wish they could talk with the boss about problems with colleagues but only 8% actually do.

Is it that there is simply no time to listen? Are people afraid? Is the depression of ideals and morale just that pathetic in the workplace today? Do we not have all the technology we need such as smart phones, email, texting and other kinds of communications? Or is it that managers just do not really care about people and performance. I am befuddled. I see the world operating like this day after day and year after year and decade after decade:

square wheels image of how things work

Can’t we just talk about things? The Round Wheels are already in that wagon! Every time and always. Let’s choose to do things differently in 2014 and make a big difference in people and performance.

Why bother? Lots of reasons including these business ones:  Sirota Research found that high-morale companies greatly outperformed their industry competitors in 2012 when considering year-over-year stock market returns.  Sirota found that companies with high morale (those with scores at the 75th percentile or higher who ask “overall satisfaction with their company” on their annual employee attitude surveys) had stronger year-over-year stock performance than their industry counterparts.  

High-morale companies averaged a 15.1% improvement in their stock price while their matched industry comparisons averaged only a 4.1% year-over-year improvement (a difference of 11 percentage points or 368%!) Moderate-morale companies (companies scoring between the 25th and 75th percentiles on employee attitude surveys) matched their industry counterparts  with only a 0.8 percentage point difference, and the low-morale companies were 166% (or 13 percentage points) lower than their industry counterparts.

“We’re Not So Bad” is apparently not so good, either!

There is also an interesting post on worker-owned businesses (link is here) and it says, in part, that even without transitioning to a co-operative structure, we can learn from democratic workplaces and adopt the way they function. The author adds her thoughts to a recent article by David Brodwin in US News and World Report that made the case for why more employee-owned businesses are needed. Brodwin compared cooperatives and top-tier professional firms run by partnerships, stating that each type of business is more accountable, resilient, and flexible. The number of these worker-owned business in the United States is growing around 6% per year and now account for about 12% of the private sector workforce.

So, some changes are occurring in organizational structures that support more employee involvement and ownership. Since we can each choose to do things differently, maybe that poem used to start this article should become:

People can fly high in the sky,
And cause great ripples in the water.
Companies can do more than get by,
And see so many impacts every quarter.

 Square Wheels and Butterfly - Choose to Fly

For the FUN of It!

scott tiny casual

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

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Dis-Un-Engagement – Improving Motivation and Facilitating Workplace Improvement

Solutions to performance improvement are not always obvious and apparent and selecting an optimal approach often requires careful analysis and planning. Sometimes, the solution requires training of a skill while other times, it is simply about choosing an implementation strategy that is more effective in supporting behavior change.

In the case of workplace engagement, we are spending billions of dollars annually in surveys and training that is supposed to improve the feelings of involvement on the part of employees. Yet nearly every research study shows that many organizations and many people in most every organization, are dis-engaged and uninvolved.

In a 2012 Gallup research paper, involving 1.4 million people and almost 50,000 organizations, it clearly demonstrated the impacts of an involved workplace, studying 9 different performance outcomes. Here are the results when one compares the top 25% of organizations with the bottom 25%:

  • 37% lower absenteeism
  • 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 41% fewer patient safety incidents
  • 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 21% higher productivity
  • 22% higher profitability

Many suggest that firing and hiring is the best solution to the issue of un-engaged workers. Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, suggests firing the 7,000,000 managers who are toxic and are poisoning 70,000,000 workers. Others blame the workers for the problem and suggest that hiring new people is the solution. (Ironically, Sirota Research found that it takes about 8 months for new hires to regress to the average performance levels of the rest of the workers. So, it seems you have to accomplish a lot of things in a narrow window of time.)

Let me propose a somewhat different framework:

If you put a gun to their head, could people do things differently?

This is an old thinking test that is attributed to Bob Mager that I first heard of back in the late 1970s. It is at the core of the issue of whether training is required for some behavior to occur. Could managers do a better job of engaging if their life depended upon it? My thinking is clearly YES and OF COURSE. But it seems very evident, looking at statistics, that they are choosing not to do so.

So, my reframing question is a simple one:

Can Each One Reach One?

Can each supervisor reach one non-engaged person in their workforce and take some action to involve and engage them? Without waiting for extensive training done by some outside organization or Human Resources? Can every single individual supervisor simply choose to do something differently?

Won’t people in the workplace naturally coalesce around the simple theme of making things better? Don’t most people have issues they would like to correct and ideas for improvement? Don’t most people like to solve puzzles and problems?

My approach is anchored with an illustration and a process of involving and engaging people to share their thoughts and ideas.

Our first illustration (1993) looks like this:

SWs One green watermark

while our new approach uses this image:

Square Wheels One is a metaphor for performance improvement by Scott Simmerman

And the lead-in question is a really simple one:
How might this represent how most organizations really work?

Without detailing the very simple training around how to facilitate the discussion and process the ideas for identifying and prioritizing the Square Wheels or designing approaches to successfully implement the Round Wheels and celebrate the successes and impacts, the basic concept is that any supervisor can be taught the facilitation skills and frameworks to make such a discussion process easy and straightforward.

With a little bit of customization, one can easily align the most successful implementation strategies to the organization’s culture of best practices and optimal ways to introduce new ideas in the workplace.

With a little imagination, the approach can be linked to the existing feedback and measurement systems to generate sustained improvement and congruence with existing expectations and desired results.

The approach that I envision is to initially get the buy-in from senior management to use this illustration and the concept that the Round Wheels are already in the wagon to develop an online training course on facilitation skills using these illustrations.

The program can be targeted to specific desired organizational outcomes around process improvement, service quality improvement, team building, innovation, process improvement or it can simply be used to generate some clear understanding of the issues that are perceived to be un-engaging and frustrating in the workplace and to allow team-based organizational improvement.

We would customize worksheets for collection of the general ideas as well as specific ones that people would like to work to improve. Issues not solvable at the supervisor level can be collected for manager resolution or escalated to higher levels of the organization as well as across organizational boundaries.

From these discussions, it is easy and straightforward to collect Best Practices that can be shared across teams of people doing similar jobs. It works well for addressing inter-departmental issues, since the language of Square Wheels is easily understood as something that works, but that does not work smoothly and efficiently.

The conversations also set up the reality of continuous continuous improvement, since the Round Wheels of Today will inevitably and invariably become the Square Wheels of Tomorrow.

Solution: I envision that we co-develop a simple online training program that would take a supervisor about an hour to complete and one that would offer them some options for how they might use the illustration in their workplaces, with individuals for coaching or for team building problem solving and roadblock management.

Square Wheels are the protected intellectual property of Performance Management Company and we have two decades of experience in using them for a wide variety of organizational development purposes.

I do see this issue of Dis-Un-Engagement as a specific approach to dealing with the less than involved and engaged employees, a group thought to represent roughly 70% of all workers across organizations. Your best managers may have higher levels of engaged people; your worse ones have more opportunities for improvement.

We can improve workplace facilitation of ideas, generate higher levels of intrinsic motivation, and do a better job of innovating.

For the FUN of It!

Scott small pic

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/


Square Wheels® are the protected intellectual property of Performance Management Company and we have two decades of experience in using them for a wide variety of organizational development purposes. Please respect our copyrights and trademark.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

Top Performers Least Engaged Workers? Low Performers Most Involved?

In 4 of 10 companies, low performers were more engaged than the high performers, a paradox that has some big implications for your organization’s long term results. The people who are bringing you the least impact are more engaged than your best performers, who need involvement and engagement for you to retain them. Yeah, motivation is a funny thing!

John Baldoni shared some survey data from LeadershipIQ on the HBR Blog Network, which has a nice pdf analysis of the data. It IS thought provoking. John wrote this up well and gave me permission to repost, so I will keep this whole post short and link to it with some other blog posts on my thinking. I will retain his links and add my cartoons! Here is what John wrote:

Some of the most engaged employees in your organization are your worst performers. And some of the least engaged are your highest performers.

This conclusion comes from new research by the consulting firm, Leadership IQ. The study “matched engagement survey and performance appraisal data for 207 organizations.” According to CEO Mark Murphy (who I interviewed via email), “We had long suspected that high performers might not be as engaged as has traditionally been assumed. But seeing that, in 42% of cases, high performers were even less engaged than low performers was a bit of a shock.”

This conclusion runs contrary to conventional wisdom as well as many studies (including this one from Gallup) that show high engagement — that is, how much employees are committed to their work — correlates with better bottom line results, including productivity and profitability.

You could think of these low performers as hamsters on a wheel, spinning fast but actually going nowhere.

Rat Cage Making Progress Yet yellow

Conversely, high performers may be coasting like swans on a pond, just gliding by. You don’t see their effort because it’s below the water. As Murphy says, “in our study, high performers gave very low marks when asked if employees all live up to the same standards.”

Overlay - duck color

While low performers may be more engaged, their efforts may not be as productive, especially since it’s the higher performers — disengaged though they may be — who are doing all the work. The underperformance of the former undermines the effort of the latter. This is especially true, according to the study, when low performers are not held accountable for poor performance. These employees may not even know they are doing a poor job.

Naturally when poor performers are allowed to slide by, it erodes the morale of high performers who feel, again according to the study, “helpless about the trajectory of their careers.”

 (Read Scott’s blog about “I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…”)

“We had seen plenty of cases where managers avoid dealing with low performers (because they believe the conversation will be difficult), and instead assign work to the employees they enjoy — i.e. high performers.,” says Murphy. “And as a result, they end up ‘burning out’ those same high performers they enjoy so much.”

While I find Leadership IQ’s findings linking high engagement to poor performers to be contrarian, it is not usual for good performers to feel lost in the system. This is a comment I hear not infrequently in my coaching work.

So what to do about it? Murphy offers two suggestions. “First, leaders need to set very explicit, and behaviorally-specific, expectations for performance. These expectations need to define and delineate good, great, and even poor performance so employees and managers can clearly define and differentiate best practices, teach those practices to others, and then hold people accountable accordingly.”

Doing this, according to Murphy, “gives high performers confidence that their manager understands the meaning of ‘high performer’ and it holds the manager accountable to actually differentiate employees on the basis of their performance.”

Second, Murphy suggests regularly monthly leadership meetings (perhaps lasting no more than 20 minutes) that ask managers about what’s going on in their workplaces and how motivated they feel. As Murphy says, “If a company CEO were told that their best customers were unhappy, it’s a safe bet that CEO would be on a plane within hours. If we truly believe that people are our most important asset, shouldn’t we pay a bit more attention to the engagement of the best of those people?”

Senior management needs to communicate more clearly, hold people at every level accountable for results, and actively invest time and resources in the talents of high performers.

All too often companies do not know their employees are unhappy until they leave. Exit interviews reveal that they leave because they did not believe anyone cared. Research has confirmed the old saw that people leave bosses, not companies. That makes holding bosses accountable for employee engagement critical.

Senior leaders need to do a better job of teaching managers how to be better managers. And they also need to apply such standards to themselves.

———————————–

I trust that you find this data and John’s framing of it to be of interest and use, as I did. If we expect workplace performance to improve, engagement and involvement are an easy way to address these opportunities. Doing another survey is not going to help us. Focusing on Dis-Un-Engagement is much more likely to pay dividends.

For the FUN of It!

Scott small pic

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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What are The Square Wheels Toolkits and why do they work so well?

Since 1993, we have been working with interactive “cartoons” and sharing the related tools as worksheets in seminars and powerpoint-based toolkits downloadable from our websites. My conference presentations most often include a free set of these materials that the participants can use back on the job. My focus has been on the themes of continuous continuous improvement and the active involvement and engagement of people in workplace performance.

How things roll in most organizations and most workplaces

How things roll in most organizations and most workplaces

What makes our toolkits unique:

If you purchase one of our toolkits, you get a complete training package, with ideas and instructions for facilitating discussions and generate the necessary involvement to help implement change. I firmly believe that,

Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car

and that if people are not involved, they cannot be expected to have any commitment for success. Often and commonly, people will resist things done to them when it comes to change and improvement. So, our unique illustrations get people involved and engaged in discussing issues and opportunities.

With a one-time cost, you get slides around the package theme along with handouts that help capture attention and ideas. Most things are designed for small group facilitation, to generate teamwork and shared ideas. Everything is based on the tools and approach that I have personally used to address some issue. And each toolkit has plenty of ideas and instructional support — plus you can connect directly with me, for free!

I sell facilitation; you generate engagement.

And all this for a one-time cost = Cheap! You get the tools and the materials gain exposure  to future managers and prospects. After 20 years, the nature of the referrals we get are surprising and rewarding; it’s nice to create materials that can be remembered for improving effectiveness.

Why should you take a chance on using the illustrations?

Because they work. You can easily develop an interactive training program focused on team-based problem identification and problem solving. They generate involvement and teamwork. They get people thinking about issues and opportunities.

Because they are easy to use. There is really not much downside to showing the illustration and asking for ideas. They do not generate any defensiveness (they actually spark some humor) and do get everyone contributing when done as small-group discussions. They are easily used by new supervisors and grizzled senior managers. They work tops-down and bottoms-up as good communications tools.

Because they are complete. Most people get the tools, use the tools and then sometimes contact me, not with questions about using them but to talk about how well they worked. These are complete toolkits, with all sorts of facilitation ideas and potential uses explained.

Because they are bombproof. Their nature is engaging and they are shown as a general framework of how things really work in most organizations. They start as silent contemplation followed by group discussions followed by room insights and ideas. They frame issues as Square Wheels and possibilities as Round ones. There is never any defensiveness, since they are telling you their ideas.

Because they are flexible. There is no underlying specific or rigid model; it is just a cartoon or a series of cartoons. You use these to ASK people for their thoughts and ideas. They anchor to your organization’s key issues and opportunities.

And because of their general nature, people will project their ideas onto the illustrations. They will see what they see and think about the organizational realities. They give you their ideas and you can generate their commitment and involvement. They can help you link lots of issues to commitments to improvements.

Square Wheels are Really Good Stuff.
Easy to use. Highly effective.

I’ve used them with thousands of people in hundreds of venues on dozens of different organizational issues, in 38 countries so far. But that is simply for testing. You can do this yourself.

Lastly, we completely guarantee your satisfaction. 

You are buying simple to  use materials from me, personally, and I take pride in their effectiveness. Call me if you would like to chat – 864-292-8700 or chat with me on Skype – SquareWheelsGuy

And if you need a new and different approach or toolkit, let’s develop one,

For the FUN of It!

Elegant Solutions

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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Workplace Motivation – “I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…”

I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…” is my anchor point for what seems to happen often in the workplace. It may be a sudden thing, where the pin hits the balloon and the worker finally snaps and decides that they are quitting — but often, before actually leaving, they will placehold their current work as they will look for another job. Or, it may simply be that the person burns out, gets totally blase about things and just does not care to try very hard anymore. Then, they will simply work to meet minimal expectations.

In this post, I excerpt some of the key thoughts and data points in my article about workplace performance. You can download a copy of the full article from box.com by clicking on the image below:

I Quit Article Icon

What I will do herein is highlight some of the key points about how to engage the dis-engaged or to accomplish what I talk about as Engagimentation.

We can start with how it all starts, with a statement of how things are working:

imagine a workplace

Yeah, just imagine that! Let me know if you actually find one of those because they would be a good role model for the rest of them. I can imagine that things work pretty well there and that they are profitable. It is a nice thought. But research shows that it is far from the average workplace of today,  where surveys consistently show the majority of people as dis-engaged and only casually involved. Surveys of managers show that many think that people would be happy to just have a job (and they are); but happiness with being employed does NOT translate into productivity and performance results.

Stats show 85% of employees report their morale declines significantly after spending 6 months on the job (from Sirota Survey Intelligence) and 49% of workers say they constantly have their antennae out for new job opportunities — even when they are happy in their current position. Few feel their current employer is giving them a fair deal in terms of advancement opportunities (Kelly survey).

We start with an energetic, positive and committed new hire who becomes one of those people who simply disappear and are working to simply get by and noticing if something better might come their way. Focused on meeting the minimally-acceptable standards of productivity and quality, they seem no longer much interested in much. They are not the first person you call on when something needs to get done. And there are a lot of them in most workplaces.

The article has a series of statistics that back up the basic idea that the majority of people in the workplace are simply choosing to underperform because they are just not “into it.” They are not bad employees, they are just not giving what they could and it shows up in a variety of ways. Think of them as: Average. Middle. Muddling. Mundane. Un-exceptional. Un-engaged.

Some Common Situation Causal Factors could include:

  • Being Restrained: One area of concern is around the mis-fit of policies, procedures, rules and regulations. They may become frustrated because they are restrained in how they accomplish things. They might want to be more helpful to customers or they may see possibilities of improvement that are either rejected as ideas or simply brushed aside.
  • Being Ignored: They may simply feel that they are ignored. They might not have feedback systems that provide effective information about their performance and those results may be invisible, in their opinions, to their management team. They might feel that they need training (or they are sent off to training for no apparent reason). And when they do extend forward, no one notices or comments; it changes nothing.
  • Not on the Team: Or, they may feel as though they are not part of the team or the in-crowd. People at the margins tend to become marginal. As part of a team, they often feel that their efforts contribute to the overall good. But with no sense of such involvement, they tend to become less involved, quickly.
  • Accidental Adversaries: Another factor was discussed by Peter Senge in his work on learning organizations and involved a series of small negative events that, in the bigger overall situation, would become more and more annoying over time. Repetitive small “pinches” could eventually be disruptive. There was not one event or one thing, just a bunch of little things that added up. It should not be surprising that these loops could be common between workers or between an individual and a supervisor and that, left unattended, they underpin a motivational problem.
  • Punishment, defined as a negative consequence that occurs following some behavior, is another issue in many workplaces. We are not talking “public disgrace” here or corporeal punishment; we are more often talking about little comments or perceived slights or the threat of negative consequences that could occur in response to behaviors.

When people are strictly following policies, procedures, rules and regulations, they will not be productive. (Yes there are situations like safety where strict compliance is important, but less so for customer service, manufacturing or similar kinds of activities). In fact, most work slowdowns are anchored in people following things overly precisely and carefully.

What do we do? How do we motivate these people?

Re-engage them. And understand that this will take time and effort. You cannot do this to them, but you can do it with them. Change and improvement take time, but the capability is there. Remember that, “Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled” (Frank Navran) and that you need to build your base moving forward.

Re-frame the solution into the simple context of Dis-Un-Engagement. This is the process of working with them to identify the things that are unengaging them and do things to remove those factor, in reality and in the perception of reality. The key is to be seen doing things differently. (I am not talking about faking it; I refer to the reality that many beliefs they might have are simply not true but if they feel that they have some control, these factors become less important.)

Dis-Un-Engaging is re-motivating by de-un-motivating!

Identify the past and present things that are currently un-engaging people and use facilitation and teamwork to identify those factors and issues that can be changed, added or reduced that will help to eliminate or minimize these performance issues and change the culture.

Actually, this is really straightforward and accomplished by:

  • removing the perceived (common) or actual (sometimes) things that are un-engaging people and teams, you serve the purpose of re-engaging and re-energizing them;
  • facilitating, you generate active involvement. You lead and engage;
  • creating a new sense of vision and mission about the future;
  • using teams to solve problems, you build the teamwork support, energy and resources needed to supply the peer pressure to improve and sustain.

Many believe that this is all there is to motivation:

How to Motivate People red color

clicking on the image will take you to another article on motivation

There are always threads in my LinkedIn groups focused on the above. Many organizations try to control people’s behaviors extrinsically, a highly difficult process fraught with all sorts of potential negative side effects. Money works, but there is a continuous need to increase its amounts to get the same results over time, and you will get a lot of competitive responses between people that have negative side effects and interfere with teamwork. Plus, extrinsic incentives will only motivate the top performers, in most situations.

In B, we will get performance. But it will be compliance-focused and not exceptional. And, do NOT turn your back, since various kinds of retribution and sabotage are common.

Recognize this simple reality:  People WANT to succeed.
We simply have to help them come back in and re-engage.

You can start with something easy like this:

Visioning 2019 Engagement

And simply listen for how people want their workplace to be. They will talk about the different problems that were fixed and the way they were engaged and involved to fix things.

After that works and you get a grip on the kinds of things that are seen as issues, you can help define how things work and get after those things that need improvement. Our approach has always been to ask for issues and opportunities using our Square Wheels illustration toolkits:

SWs One - How Things Work

But there are lots of things you can do and how you can do them. My approach is to use the above and then get them thinking like this:

Intrinsic motivation comes from feeling successful and wanting to continue to improve how things work.

Intrinsic motivation comes from feeling successful and wanting to continue to improve how things work.

We want the group to feel like they understand the issues and can deal with them effectively. The key is to implement some improvements and possibly use teams to help with that process. Do things differently! Success makes Continued Success more likely.

Engagimentation = engagement plus implementation

Doing more surveys without doing anything to involve and engage people tends to feel more like this:

Working hard, turning corners, working hard, turning corners, working hard...

Companies spent $700 million on engagement surveys. They got close to nothing in return – engagement is dropping most places.

Don’t just have more surveys and more discussions. Involve and engage the people in the organization — especially those in the middle — to improve performance results of all kinds.

You can download the complete article on workplace engagement by clicking this sentence. Your feedback would be appreciated.

Scott on CoachingYou can also find a 3-minute video on my YouTube page that explains the concepts around coaching and improving average performance and the idea of moving the overall performance curve to improve results at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cohrhcYpDCk

For the FUN of It!

Discuss what you might do differently

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Addendum – There is a really interesting “I Quit” letter going around, reportedly from a woman auditor who quits PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) because of people, structure, culture, and job growth. She pulls no punches. You can find that, with a long series of comments from other people, at http://gawker.com/this-is-the-best-i-quit-email-youll-read-all-week-1467082884

 

Is HR the Puppet Master or the Puppet?

There was a great post this morning by Dan Rockwell on his blog, part of which I reproduce here simply because it is a great subject as well as a target of some of my cartoons.

Dan wrote (some snipped):

My worst experience with HR is a broken confidence. She smiled and listened and within an hour violated my trust.

Human Resource personnel are among the most criticized people in business.

HR is criticized for:

  1. Treating humans as resources.
  2. Not understanding positions they’re filling.
  3. Managing paper better than people.
  4. Subservience to policy and procedure.
  5. Defensive, CYA postures.
  6. Lack of operational experience.
  7. Working for the C-Suit, not the people.

New potential:

HR matters because people matter.

“I don’t know about you, but I love HR.” Dr. Vik (Doc) in “The Culture Secret.”

“They are underrated, over-criticized, and underutilized.” Doc says, change the name from Human Resources to Human Empowerment (HE). The job of HE is, “Maximizing human potential.” Doc goes on to say, “HE could be the single biggest champion of your companies Culture.

New ideas for HE:

  1. Focus more on development.
  2. Become more human. Since when does serious work prohibit smiling?
  3. Sit in the seats of workers and do their jobs.

My take is that HR pretty much does what the C-Suite instructs it to do. I wrote:

Well, as they say, “Good Luck with all that.”

It is NOT HR’s fault, it is the C-suite that does to them what it wants and focuses them on the psychopathic side of running a business. Our Generally Accepted Accounting Practices treat people as a cost on the ledger of life. That crap all cascades down.

Over my 30 years, I have seen some attempts to address it in one company or another. The average company will SAY something like, “Our people are our greatest asset,” but then go look for some of that.

Because senior managers like extrinsic rewards, the whole operation works that way. Because senior managers like golf, they do teambuilding around a golf resort. Since people are often disposible, they treat them like paper tissues (I will go no further in that description).

I once had the CEO of a company at a retreat with his top managers blurt, “Asking employees for ideas is like asking the vegetables to design a refrigerator.” (He was not trying to be funny…)

Executives are SO far isolated from the workers that they have little clue as to who they are or what they do. Why should they treat them with respect?

How can a chain of 5000+ retail stores operate with none of the workers qualifying for any benefits — no health care in a company that labels itself a pharmacy?

Look at the people on minimum wage – 80% work for billion dollar companies that are profitable. Some even help their new hires apply for Medicaid and other government benefits designed to help the poor — and these are the new hires.

Let’s not place all the blame on HR. Lots of guilty parties making a lot of financial decisions to support the stock prices, not the people. Are there good exceptions? Surely.

and

Addendum: It is about Money. That means it is about Taxes and reducing costs. Does that really seem like a good base for building people skills and investing in organizational development? Any wonder why “Re-Engineering” took off and the focus changed from improving the processes to reducing headcount.

I always liked this: “How long can we go lean and mean until we become gaunt and dead?” (source unknown)

to which Dan responded:

Seriously, I think you’re nailing an important component of this issue. It seems to boil down to the idea that HR is the “puppet” of people at the top. We know people are reluctant to give up power once they have it.

I think that many organizations run something like this:

Puppet Master One color yellow

and larger organizations tend to look more like this as the control cascades down from leadership:

Puppet Master Two color yellow        Puppet Master Three color yellow

And things can get really crazy as top managers try to gain even more control over how things work and who does what when.

Puppet Master Four color yellow

So, what is the role of HR in all this? Is it to simply help senior managers control the behavior of the employees or is it to help the employees generate a sense of self-worth and to create some engagement and involvement in what happens in their workplaces? Is HR there to help the corporation control “all things people” or simply to help keep costs under control and manage “Human Resources,” you know, the people who do ALL of the Actual Work in the organization?

It is an interesting paradox, for sure.

manager puppet poem

BIG manager puppet poem

For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, team building facilitator

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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US and THEM – a poem about teamwork and collaboration

US and THEM - a poem about teamwork and collaboration

The lyrics of Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” are somewhat about teamwork and leadership — I love the tune (still humming it!). And I have used this cartoon of US being built up full of THEM for 20 years. In Lost Dutchman, a tabletop of people will choose to work together on the shared goal of, “Mining as much gold as we can,” and miss the them of “Mining as much gold as WE can,” which is the purpose of the game from the standpoint of the Expedition Leader. Each team’s success is important, but the overall success is more important, right?

That first lyric talkes about “US” being ordinary people. Ordinary men can do extraordinary things and it is all about the choice and choices people make. But we need to understand that Us is We and that They is Us. We’re all in this together and need to be more aligned, with better leadership.

They - 4 people Pointing

The song lyrics are below, and you can listen to it on YouTube here

Microsoft PowerPoint001

I think we need to remember that our workplaces are full of such “ordinary men” and that each of us has the potential to perform at high levels. What we need are good “Generals” who lead us boldly forward toward a shared vision of the future, but who also engage us and have a real sense of what is happening. After all, as I have written before,

Desk is danger red quote round

and what we need is something that looks like this from the back of the wagon:

View Front at Back with Mission

Have fun out there, and remember to involve and engage.

Muscles slide in backgroundDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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New Square Wheels tools for improvement are on the way, focused on building teams and increasing employee engagement.

Facilitating Engagement, Alignment and Involvement with Cartoons

Sometimes, I think that everyone already knows what I do and how simple it is to do and how well it works to involve and engage people in workplace improvement and get their ideas about what things need to be done differently.

Then, I have a phone conversation with someone and I cycle right back to the beginning, and I start talking about how simple and straightforward it can be to involve people because they want to solve problems and improve their workplace, given all the time then spend there… And THEN, I realize how much fun this all is and how wonderful the approach I have taken for the past 20 years really works.

Okay. The Situation:

The people are demotivated and unengaged (lots of statistics). And the theme of building some teamwork is suggested by the boss’ boss. Only there is no budget and no time. And no support from Training. “Just get it done!” we are told…

Okay. Pay $50 and get a toolkit containing worksheets and cartoons and instructions on how to use a simple cartoon to generate discussion of issues and ideas about what is not working and what could work better.

The toolkit starts by having you share an image just like this:

Ask: “How might this represent how most organizations really work?”

Then you can pretty much let things flow undirected. Let people think and consider, let them play with the ideas at hand and the issues and opportunities. We’ve figured out a lot of different ideas and frameworks for facilitation and structuring the resulting issues and opportunities, with handouts like, “What are some Square Wheels we deal with” and “What are some Round Wheel ideas to fix this Square Wheel” and stuff like that.

But a few colored marking pens and some easel pad paper are pretty much all you need to generate the gap between the way things are and the way they should be and to generate the teamwork and energy and focus needed for most people in most organizations to be motivated to close the gap

Heck, you can even select one person who has natural leadership skills and just let them self-direct the group in rolling downhill and forward.

I read these articles about how difficult it is to engage people in the workplace and how people are resistant to change and how to motivate people and all that. All it does is make things SEEM really complicated and confusing.

I will bet you can do all that with just the cartoon above. Ya think?

Oh, almost forgot. The Square Wheels One illustration above is how things work in MOST places. Here is how things tend to work in Asia:

 

Yep, that is just a little joke.

Have fun out there.

Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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Nobody ever washes a rental car – Thoughts on engagement and ownership

“Nobody ever washes a rental car.”

I’ve been using this phrase for dozens of years, since it elegantly and simply illustrates a very real opportunity for significant increases in employee engagement, organizational improvement, performance improvement and so many other aspects of improving organizational results.

It’s a really great anchoring statement and I have used it many times as the title of a presentation. But it also generates confusing reactions in some people.

It’s a metaphor! It is not a statement for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles or some Rule of Life. And it is funny — I have actually had people raise their hands in seminars to explain that they have actually washed a rental car in the past. Once in a while, they admit to being WAY overly compulsive and obsessed. More generally, they illustrate my key point…

The point is one of ownership — people do not take care of things they do not own. I can often illustrate this by asking participants if they have ever owned a rental property. Some of the tenants were exceptional and left the place better than before they rented it. But most share my experience: tenants at a house I owned nearly burned down the house with a chimney fire, pretty-much destroyed the wood floors, punched holes in the walls and left nail holes in nearly every wall. The rose garden and the camilla tree were gone, with the former used as for parking and the latter just destroyed (by motor oil dumped around it, apparently).

Ownership — If you own something, you tend to take better care of it. That is all I mean. Let me illustrate.

If someone in the workplace comes up with an idea and presents it to the manager and the managers enables them to try it, they most likely will, right? But, if the boss comes up and says, “Let’s now do things this way,” the general response will be for people to resist the change and generate reasons why it won’t work, right?

Statistics say that most executives believe that the most difficult aspect of any organizational improvement initiative is employee resistance.

Nothing corners better, handles bumps and speedbumps, treats potholes and curbs with disdain, accelerates faster and breaks harder than a rental car. (right?)

Who owns the idea? Not the employee, right? So, why wouldn’t they resist the idea? After all, they need to change, learn to do something differently than they have been doing it, have a higher risk of failure and will probably see a drop in their productivity in the short term. What’s to like about all that?

And there is another paradox at work, as shown below:

Leaders will resist changes they feel are done TO them.

On consulting projects in the past, ideas that I helped the workers implement were often resisted by the managers, who felt that things were not under control or moving too fast or similar. This happened less and less as my experience improved and I could generate a level of their involvement that would balance the issues of resistance on both sides of the wagon.

I’ve expanded on the issue of ownership elsewhere in my blogs such as here on innovation and here on leading meetings.

There are lots of ways we can do things differently to better involve and engage people in our needed improvement initiatives. But pushing and pulling is not the best of strategies. Sitting, talking, explaining and asking is often a much more effective way to get things rolling…

Put the wagon up on wheels for a while and consider alternative ideas generated by everyone.

Have some fun out there, too.

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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On Trial and Error, Blame Frames and Gotcha’s: Engagement? Innovation? Really?

In the “Keeping Things Simple – Involving and Engaging” blog, I shared a cartoon that we call, “Trial and Error”:

square wheels image of Trial and Error

Take a moment and look at the cartoon and react to what you see before moving on, please. Just consider what might be happening above.

Okay? Take a moment. Seriously…

When I show this illustration to managers and ask for their reactions, the ratio I get is about 8 : 1. In other words, eight themes focused on the negative and what they did wrong for every one good thing they might see. Mothers usually call this “constructive criticism,” but I am not sure what good purpose it serves to continually point out what people are doing wrong, “even if it is for your own good.” as we so often hear as kids and teenagers (and workers, in so many instances!).

I think we, as managers, are trained to look for business improvement opportunities and to look for things we can improve. That is fine. well and good and serve solid business purposes. But when this gets expressed to our “teenagers” as Non-Support, we cannot expect others to just go along with that. Most people do NOT like the taste of castor oil, even if it IS for our own good!

What managers tend to do looks like this:

We embed the good with the blame and the people are more likely to run over the top of the hill and hide than come back to the wagon and continue to make improvements. Sure, their first attempt was pretty quirky and maybe they missed an idea or two about how they could get things done better.

But they also added a horse to the situation — more horsepower, as it were. And YOU probably have not considered whether this might actually work. What if the next step simply looked like this:

Allow people to do things and celebrate their successes.

Improvement is a continuous process, one that requires celebration of what is accomplished and continued reflection on possibilities and potential shifts in resource utilization. One might thing that there is a train in their future?

———————————–

Update:

I added a short article on Devil’s Advocate roles and building Trust as it relates to organizational improvement. You can see it by clicking on the image below:

LEGO SWs One POSTER Devil's Advocate Challenge

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

Square Wheels® are a trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of the The LEGO Group

 

 

Keeping Things Simple – Involving and Engaging

In the past couple of days, I have been involved in some really long and even somewhat convoluted discussions about motivation and innovation and engagement and leadership and workplace creativity.

And an associate of mine in Asia had asked for my ideas for implementing workplace improvement. So, I offered up some simple ideas about involving and engaging people and then thought to blog about it a bit, since it seems to be a very common organizational development issue.

And, I could get into my own convoluted pedagogical diatribe and gobbledygook on all things, I prefer to keep it simple and straightforward. That’s just my nature.

How do we involve, engage, and motivate to generate innovation and workplace performance improvement? Here would be my four key suggestions:

  1. Ask, Ask, Ask, Ask, Ask, and Ask
  2. Listen and listen and listen
  3. Let things happen! Get out of the way!
  4. Provide resources and support.

One asks, in my model of the world, with a visual image and some moments of silence. Ask people how this illustration might represent how things really work in most organizations:

SWs One How Things Work ©

You will find a variety of ideas about facilitation of conversations and idea generation in other writings in these blog posts. Basically, give them some silent time and then allow tables of 4 to 6 people to talk.

Note that we sell a really easy to use toolkit of illustrations in powerpoint and handout worksheets as printable files, plus speaking notes. The basic package on general facilitation you can find here — $50 and complete — and you can always chat with me to define and refine your approach.

By using the cartoon approach, what will happen is that they will eventually to talking about the Square Wheels they deal with and the Round Wheels that already exist. And the reality is that once something is labeled a “Square Wheel,” people will want to fix it. So, this simple activity will set up 2, 3 and 4 on the list IF

YOU JUST STAY OUT OF THE WAY
AND NOT MEDDLE WITH THEM OR THE PROCESS.

Most people in most workplaces have a fairly realistic view of their reality and history that management is more The Party of No than the people in power who will enable them to actually make improvements and get things done.

Is this because I have a biased view of supervisors, managers and executives? NO. (Well, partly). It is really just my experienced view and based on observations as well as based on survey after employee survey over the past 30 years — Big Surveys done on thousands of people in dozens of countries and little ones done informally within workgroups using only pencil and paper. (See this great article around Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, and his views on this.)

Most surveys show that managers manage — they control and direct (and inhibit).

I was once involved with a Mission Statement for a large public utility and the Executives were asking if this phrase was a good one to include:

“We manage with uncompromising integrity.”

Well, the supervisors took one look at the above and quickly said, “No way.” They rewrote it to read,

“We manipulate with inflexible righteousness.”

So, my advice is to support where needed with resources, time, money, etc. but to get the heck out of the way and let the people play with the ideas until they can put them into an effective solution. It may take some trial and error (and look something like this:

Trial and Error. Do something and then step back from the wagon to see if there is something else that might be done…

If you are meddling, you will probably toss a Blame Frame around the above picture and generate defensiveness and an unwillingness to risk going forward. Blame Frames are really common in most organizations, and really easy to apply to innovations.

It is like the old Six Phases of a Typical Project Management Initiative:

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Disillusionment
  3. Panic
  4. Search for the Guilty
  5. Punishment of the Innocent
  6. Praise and Honor for the Non-Participants
I suggest that you simply keep things simple. Look at what has worked in the past to generate improvements and successes and model your NEW initiatives around those old successful ones. Most crashes of small planes occur when the newbie pilot tries to control things too much — most small planes fly just nicely when you let go of the controls. Overcompensation is what causes the problems.
Have fun out there!
Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

Thoughts on Teamwork and Engagement

This is about issues and opportunities around people and performance.

Maximum organizational effectiveness comes from aligning people to work together on shared common goals and providing them with the information and resources to get things done. In most cases, organizations function reasonably well within departments, with managers meeting goals and expectations. There are issues, but they are not departmental because shared goals and measurements as well as group expectations by management tend to give reasonably good levels of performance and innovation. People tend to be good problem solvers and will work together fairly well.

There are a variety of statistics clearly demonstrating that team-based behavior can offer a wide range of positive impacts on organizations of all kinds:

  • Globally, only 1 of 5 workers is giving full discretionary effort on the job. We often call these “exemplary performers” but they are simply engaged
  • Almost 4 of 10 workers are disenchanted or disengaged – they are not performing to their capability
  • In the US, only 3 in 10 feel engaged and the same number feel disenchanted or disengaged – they are not contributing much nor getting satisfaction in their jobs
  • Only 1 in 10 respondents agreed that senior leaders in their companies actually treat employees as vital corporate assets
  • The more engaged employees are more likely to stay with an organization, but 40% are “passive job seekers.”
  • Fully half of the disengaged have NO plans to leave the company nor are they even passively looking for other employment! (scary!)

There are strong connections of engagement to company results:

  • Companies with high employee engagement had a 19% increase in operating income and a 28% growth in earnings per share
  • Companies with low levels of engagement saw a drop in operating income of 32% and a decline of 11% in earnings per share  (from a TP one-year study of 50 companies)

Moreover,

  • Companies with high engagement had a 3.74% increase in operating margin and a 2.06 net profit margin
  • Companies with low engagement had a -2.01% decline in operating margin and a -1.38% net profit margin (from a TP study of 40 companies)

Can we hear a Thump Thump? Are we really making progress?

There are lots of statistics around clearly demonstrating why we need to improve. In other posts, I will share some ideas for making things improve. There are many things we can do.

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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