Performance Management Company Blog

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

Tag: employee motivation

Some simple thoughts on improving performance

I read a Zig Ziglar quote

“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst.
Capitalize on what comes.” 

and it got me thinking that I can do something similar with my Square Wheels cartoons, as they illustrate a lot of themes around people, perceptions and organizational reality.

So, I thought about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to anchor and illustrate it to my way of thinking about leading organizational improvement:

That seems to sum things up pretty nicely.

Square Wheels image UNDERSTAND the basic reality

The reality is thumping and bumping along on the things that do not work smoothly. There are LOTS of Square Wheels operating out there.

As inspirational and effective leaders of people and performance, we generally have an involving and engaging vision of where we are going and its attractiveness. The View from the Front is what generally keeps us moving forward. (If you do NOT have a view from the front, then your view might look more like the one in red!)

But effective leaders understand that not everyone shares in that View at the Front and that the view from the back of the wagon is not really motivational and inspirational — that many people do not feel engaged, involved and empowered. (There are lots of data out there on un-engagement and worse, you realize! See THIS and THIS.)

So, understanding that we need to all engage in some initiatives to make improvements, and recognizing that continuous improvement is continuous and that the future will operate differently than it does today, we get that final illustration in green:

Celebration color green train

Pretty good food for thought, eh?

We motivate people by getting them actively involved and engaged in implementing their own solutions to the issues they face in daily life and work.

Motivate Me poem

Some frameworks are just more elegant! And our Square Wheels tools are simple to use, bombproof to implement, and pretty magic when it comes to effective ways of involving and engaging people to generate solutions for organizational improvement.

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

 

See our powerful $20 Toolkit to improve communications and collaboration:

Square Wheels Icebreaker is simple to use

Followup, Followup, Followup — The Only Way to make Improvements

Guilty of it myself, much more often than I would like.

We do some training and expect things to change.

What is wrong with this picture is that while we might impact knowledge, we do not really implement any change or improvement in results.

Gosh, I know that feedback is the critical part of performance (not reinforcement per se) and that changes in feedback are the ONLY way that anything will change for any length of time.

(You can read more on performance feedback here)

What I have been doing lately to impact the effectiveness of the play of our team building exercise that focuses on collaboration is to further develop our debriefing cartoons to include some anchored to poems and that could be used to keep people thinking about issues and opportunities and about the commitments they made to do some things differently.

Obviously, without some way to measure change and improvement, we will not have much sustainability from any training event. But, with the leadership team asking about changes and improvements and ideas, it does keep the issues and opportunities more in the forefront.,

I do NOT have a silver bullet for making all things right. But we do offer some simple, elegant tools like Lost Dutchman and Square Wheels to help organizations implement improvement.

Here are a few of the series, that is still under development. If you are a Lost Dutchman owner-user, pop me a note and I can assemble the illustrations for you and send them along,

LD boots in rain poem question

LD Grub Stake 2 poem and questions

 

LD Chaos Confusion poem and questions

 

LD Land Rush feather poem question month

 

 

 

I trust that you like these. Feel free to bounce back with your own poems and suggestions, and note that I have about 50 of these right now, with more to come,

For the FUN of It!

Scott LD

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

 

A softball cartoon on employee engagement…

John Junson, a cartoonist working with David Zinger at The Employee Engagement Network, just published his 365th cartoon around issues of employee engagement and the reality of the workplace.

I thought this one was really cute and could certainly be used generically to stimulate discussions about some of the issues people face when dealing with managers. That interface to manager to worker is where the leverage really occurs in generating teamwork and innovation and personal growth.

So, I share that illustration here:

295

I am into metaphor, and the idea of a window on the world and a live plant are certainly. I think I might have her holding her arms up in a “touchdown” kind of gesture and someone said that the hind portion of the boss on the left side might have some skin showing, since he IS showing his (arse) by behaving as he is. But maybe I am just a little too direct, ya think?

You can get to and join this free network of 10,000 people focused on people and performance at http://employeeengagement.ning.com/

You can find some writings and other information about the impacts of increasing active involvement in the workplace at this recent blog, which connects to some of my other writings on this issue.

DO have some fun out there. Do some things differently today than you normally do and see if you can make a small positive difference to someone.

Each One, Reach One.

And realize that this engagement issue is only somewhat about other people and bad HR processes — it is a lot more about your people, their active involvement, related intrinsic motivation and the leadership behaviors that you choose to show that allows all of us to operate more effectively with our teams.

 

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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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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Managers – Biggest Contributors or Biggest Problem?

An outstanding article got published today by Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallup. If you have not noticed the transition of this company over the years, it has moved from its stereotyped base as a “polling organization” to one that is tightly focused on issues of workplace improvement. This article by Mr. Clifton appeared in LinkedIn and is mindblowing.

Jim CliftonYou can find the article here: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130322105453-14634910-beware-of-managers-from-hell

The data — 1,390,941 workers compiled into one database — says that of the 100,000,000 or so full time workers in the US, 30,000,000  (30%) are engaged and inspired at work and 20,000,000 (20%) employees  are actively disengaged. It’s that old Henny Youngman line, “…Take my wife. Please!” reframed to, “…Take my boss… Please!” in the case of the 20 million who – again – are ACTIVELY dis-engaged, un-involved and un-inspired.

Henny Youngman( See Henny Youngman perform on Ed Sullivan (1966). )

The point that Youngman makes is that he wishes things could be different (he is actually joking, and it is funny!). The point Jim Clifton makes is that leadership in management is a critical factor in employee motivation and performance, and that good managers are a lot different than bad bosses in how they impact the workplace and the US economy. He is not joking and nothing is funny about allowing things to simply continue the way things are…

As Clifton says,

Here is my big conclusion: A workforce of 100 million employees in America requires a 10-1 ratio of managers to teams. So, for the U.S. to be perfectly managed, it requires 10 million great supervisors and then 1 million great managers of those supervisors. Pick the right people for these roles, the ones who know best how to engage their people, and the country will rise up economically like never before.

But the problem is, given my 10-1 ratio, there are, in my estimate, only about 3 million great managers inspiring and motivating those 30 million engaged employees. That’s just not enough great leadership.

 We do NOT need 3 million great managers leading people; what we need are a few million fewer Bad Bosses un-leading them! In other posts in my blog, I discuss dis-un-engagement and the issues surrounding the unmotivated middle of the workforce. We can impact them in many ways. In my post about the seemingly unmotivated, I discuss my thinking on what we can do differently to make improvements. It is not rocket science. In my post about Pogo, it is about this simple concept:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Like  Mr. Clifton, I believe that we must make changes in how people are managed. His approach is focused on engagement, and so is mine. He takes the position that the three key issues of importance, based on their survey results are:

1.     At work,  I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day. This is the single-best survey item you can ask an employee. If they score high on this, it means they have been assigned a job for which they have the talent to excel. Mastering this begins with companies identifying employees’ strengths and putting them in the right roles.

2.     There is someone at work who encourages my development.

3.     At work, my opinions seem to count.

I take the position that most people are un-engaged and un-involved and that every manager and supervisor needs to focus in DIS-un-engagement and the implementation of ideas — Engagimentation. It is a simple concept of facilitating ideas in the workplace and then working to implement those ideas by better managing perceived and actual roadblocks. The tools are simple and the approach is straightforward.

Reality of how things work SWs One

and the possibilities that exist for making the workplace a better place:

Rainbow Wagon green 70

Engagimentation

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.

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Biggest Mistakes in Motivating People

I think the biggest mistake we make is in thinking that you can add THINGS to motivate people. Yes, there are basic needs and all those requirements. But so many people think that motivation is driven extrinsically.

Yeah, maybe, but we sure better be careful. Extrinsic rewards are what Managers like to think motivates people. The irony is that these people ARE motivated by extrinsic rewards in many cases — they LIKE those incentives and thus respond well to them, for the most part. SO, that should mean that everyone wants rewards, right?

Well, maybe. Tell you what. I like dogs, so I promise to give a St. Bernard / Labrador mixed breed puppy to everyone who responds to this post. That work for you?

Ya think? Isn’t a puppy an absolutely great reward? Don’t you like dogs? Rather have a cat? How about a small child – there are lots of them looking for a good home these days…

Dan Pink has gotten a great deal of publicity for coming out against extrinsic reward systems. Good book, his Drive. Great Video (google or bing “Dan Pink RSA” – over 7 million views!!). I think Dan gave short shrift to Alfie Kohn’s classic books like, “Punished by Rewards” — he shared lots of research on how rewards do not drive expected behaviors.

What we need is more self-directed positive feedback.

LONG ago (1979?), I came to the conclusion that most corporate feedback programs were awful when it came to supporting performance improvement.

Here are 5 of my 14-point checklist. Most people report systems that support less than half of these kinds of features:

1. Information on performance is based on actual measured accomplishment and not on estimates or opinions about how results were accomplished.

2. Information highlights areas of performance that have quantifiable value to the organization rather than more general areas of preference

3. Performance information routinely goes to the people who do the work, rather than mostly to management.
People see summarized results.

4. Information shows current levels of performance rather than being delayed by a period of time; it is timely enough to provide for self-correcting actions

5. Results are reported regularly and systematically and not on a haphazard or occasional basis.

We do NOT need to focus on adding extrinsic motivators to the workplace.

What we need to do is focus on involving and engaging people in workplace improvement, giving them a sense of ownership involvement and getting the recognition that they deserve for the jobs that they do. They need good feedback systems that direct their behavior as well as positive support from their peers and managers.

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 atscott@squarewheels.com

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

Workplace Motivation Improvement – Easy!

It is commonly believed that the fate of many companies could be altered for the better if workers were more motivated. They do not blame the senior managers, who are all-knowing and totally dedicated because their earnings are all tied to performance. Companies and Managers blame the front line employees for not being motivated to delivery service or manufacture quality. Okay, maybe the people are also at fault, but is it really the fault of the workers?

(see a great article posted up on data from Gallup shared by Jim Clifton)

So, companies will often implement a climate survey and, sure enough, they find that the employees are dis-engaged and less than supporting. Gallop surveys on engagement show that only 3% of workers in Japan, where I write this, are engaged. And only 24% are enrolled. Fully 16% and 56% are dis-engaged and dis-enchanted with the way things are in their workplaces

So, when things are going wrong, the knee-jerk reaction is to blame the workers for their poor attitudes and lack of work ethic. But might there be some other cause?

Demotivators drive motivation away — they are performance inhibitors unintentionally built into the way most of us do business. One often hears of “unintended consequences” when it comes to changes that generate unanticipated results. The reality, though, is that there are few real Unintended Consequences when it comes to worker motivation – a bit of “due diligence,” like talking to employees, would quickly smoke out the foreseeable problems that might occur.

Sometimes, the workers feel that the managers are their adversaries, as opposed to their business improvement partners. This can generate a situation where Defense is one of the useful self-preservation strategies, as depicted below:

Workers WILL defend themselves from management

Workers WILL defend themselves from management attacks

Demotivators of all kinds have profound negative impacts on performance, yet they are often ignored because they are considered normal in the workplace. Sometimes, they slowly creep into an organization and become part of normal operations. A lot of the fear and anger, both expressed and repressed, that appears in organizations today is controllable, but not from a manager’s desk.

And, in most workplaces, we find that workers will say that they are choosing not to give work their full attention and that they could do a better job. But no one asks them to and they are simply allowed to de-motivate themselves over time.

They can result in negative behavior by employees and even affect their health. Some research has shown that 84% of workers say they could perform better if they want to and 50% of workers said they put forth only enough effort to hang onto their jobs.

To quote Dean Spitzer (“Supermotivating the Workforce”, 1996): “Too many managers underestimate the importance of what they consider minor irritations, not realizing how large these irritations loom in the subjective experience of employees. To employees stuck in the middle, these demotivators are not minor at all.”

Spitzer lists 21 demotivators. The list follows. The six most-troubling ones identified by Spitzer are denoted with an “*.”

*1) Politics;
*2) Unclear Expectations;
3) Unnecessary Rules;
*4) Poorly Designed Work; 5) Unproductive Meetings; 6) Lack of Follow-Up;
7) Constant Change;
8) Internal Competition;
9) Dishonesty (Being lied to and lots of executive “spin”);
*10) Hypocrisy (“Walking the talk”);
11) Withholding Information;
12) Unfairness (Perceived preferential treatment):
13) Discouraging Responses (to ideas);
14) Criticism (atmosphere);
15) Capacity Underutilization (of individuals);
16) Tolerating Poor Performance;
*17) Being Taken for Granted;
18) Management Invisibility;
19) Overcontrol;
20) Takeaways (of past entitlements./privileges);
*21) Being Forced to Do Poor-Quality Work.

Take a look at the list and ask youself if you could find some of those at your job or at a client’s operation. Ask yourself if any of those could be changed. These kinds of things appear as intentional slowdowns, careless mistakes, unsafe behavior, absenteeism or sickness-related job absence, tardiness and theft, among other things.

How do you deal with the de-motivators? Take steps to systematically remove them, one at a time. It is really pretty straightforward, so here are some ideas:

1 – engage everyone in conversations about workplace improvement, recognizing that everyone will have ideas about what could be done differently

2 – involve key leaders in the workplace in getting some things changed and improved, since they have a history of doing those kinds of things

3 – make sure goals and expectations are clear and install really good performance feedback systems. (I do not mean performance appraisals, I mean ways of allowing people to see the results of their actions)

4 – make sure everyone understands the overall mission and vision and knows how their work plays a role in getting things done. People DO want to do important work

5 – improve communications and allow people to share their ideas

6 – improve communications and allow people to share their ideas (yeah, I KNOW that I said that one twice!)

7 – make sure that you focus on recognizing any improvements that occur, both individual as well as workgroup

8 – allow some natural teamwork to occur.

Square Wheels are everywhere. Ask people for their Round Wheeel Ideas!

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 atscott@squarewheels.com

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

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For the FUN of It!

Games during Games – It is puzzling…

Puzzles and Games within Games

I was reading Dan Pink’s book Drive about the impacts and benefits of intrinsic motivation and the distinct advantages of intrinsic over extrinsic rewards for anything other than rote kinds of repetitive tasks. He mentions the fact that many people are motivated to simply solve problems. And I remembered a recent conversation with Thiagi as to how he uses some of his brief games to actually debrief his other games, and that got me thinking..

I was thinking about adding some woodA puzzle within a team building game focused on innovation and intrinsic motivationen puzzles like the classic 3-dimensional Soma Puzzle (of Piet Hein) and simply leaving them on the tabletops, only to ask during the debriefing if anyone solved the puzzle. Or, putting a dissembled one on the table (the one I bought from MonkeyPodGames comes in a nice square wooden box) and asking if someone at the table could put it back into the box before the end of the session…

My guess is that people would fiddle with the pieces (there are 240 possible combinations), and that if I left it on the table with the pieces apart, that someone would figure it out with no “management.”

The basic idea is that people are intrinsically motivated to solve problems and that they will put the mental time in on doing that without any “support” of management — that in the workplace, they will be intrinsically motivated to identify and solve issues and problems if we simply allow them to. It would be a most excellent learning point for the main activity.

Does anyone have information about having done this or any thoughts on how to optimize the learning point that we do not need to provide external rewards when we are simply trying to involve and engage people in “workplace activities,” like solving problems.

This could be done for SWs sessions or for tabletop team building games like Lost Dutchman and the Square Wheels games like Innovate & Implement. The fact that they did that (and maybe more than one time) would make for an added learning point in the debriefings. People will do things they want to do and they are motivated to fix things that need fixing…

People ARE driven to solve problams, which is one reason why labeling something a Square Wheel works so well to drive the suggestions and collections of Round Wheel ideas.

I&I gameboard 20

You can find out more about our Innovate & Implement Exercise Toolkit by clicking on this link. It is bundled with a complete set of tools that enable the identification of issues and ideas about innovation and problem solving, plus tools for implementing improvement.

People have FUN solving problems, so translate that into workplace improvement and intrinsic motivation.

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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 atscott@squarewheels.com

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

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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.

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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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