Performance Management Company Blog

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

Tag: workplace performance improvement

The Origin of Engagement in the breakdown of Appraisal and Control

Simply put:

We need stop doing such a lousy job
of motivating people in the workplace.

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).

In a recent Forum Corp. survey, only 8% of employees report that they trust their leaders “to a great extent.”  But in that very same survey, 96% of employees say that it is, “extremely important to have a manager they can trust.”

I expand on a lot of issues of workplace motivation in this two-part post,

Workplace Motivation – “I Quit! Nevermind. Whatever…”
(Part One) (Part Two)

The data is clear. People are not involved and engaged in the workplace and these people, their managers, the customers and the company all pay a price for that un-engagement.

square wheels image

Solutions for this are pretty much everywhere. Improving leadership and its alignment to core values and an expressed mission and vision — one that is real and congruent to their behavior — is a good place to start. Improving teamwork and collaboration in the workplace is another good place to begin to re-engage people.

Here is a short 6-minute video on the engagement network
that frames up some obvious solutions.

Removal of the perceived roadblocks to good performance is basic and straightforward and you can read some of my ideas about managing that here.

There are some thoughts here on sharing praise and managing performance feedback, including a link to my Feedback Analysis Checklist. (Click here to see that blog post) and there is a long, two-part series of articles that get into a lot of ideas and information and statistics on managing performance here.

What we need to do is understand that passion and trust are critical factors in workplace motivation and that our traditional approach of performance appraisal and performance evaluation simply puts the worker and the manager into an adversarial kind of environment. The typical “reward systems” that are installed by HR and supported by the executive team are not working and will not work, serving very often to simply put the people into competition, which more often sub-optimizes the overall group performance a lot more than it motivates the top performers.

Best practices already exist in the organization, but developing the teamwork to help install them throughout the workplace cannot be done with competition as the driving force. The ideas for improvement already exist, but we cannot make improvements if we keep working like this:

Square Wheels One cannot expect improvement words

We need to do things differently
or we will continue to get the same results!

The change needs to be at the interface of the worker and the supervisor. All that other stuff is nice, but it is the manager that needs to change their behavior. We also can build on the natural tendency of people to work together on shared goals and desired outcomes. People are competitive, but teamwork does occur naturally.

We must put the power into the hands of the supervisor, not in the hands of some remote and well-intentioned HR Control Group that has little in common with the workers and supervisors and who do not share the same expectations, desired outcomes and goals, or rewards for good performance. Performance Appraisal and Evaluation — even if you improve it — will not do much to improve workplace performance. Simply because:

  • Fear is the Mindkiller (from the Dune books) — competition produces winners and lots more losers and no one likes to lose.
  • Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled. (Frank Navran)
  • Nobody ever washes a rental car. Ownership and hands-on involvement are critical factors in success.

Get them involved and engaged with you in your workplace improvement efforts and focus HR on human capital improvement, not performance appraisal and so-called incentive motivation.

We cannot become what we want to be

PMC has great tools for facilitating engagement and involvement and for building teams and teamwork, tools that work for supervisors interested in the improvement of workplace performance and motivating people. It is not rocket science — it is straightforward, simple and simply continuous…

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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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Going Postal – Workplace violence and Engagement

As regular readers know, I write a lot on the themes of employee productivity and workplace engagement. We’ve focused a lot of thinking energy on themes of generating active involvement and employee ownership involvement as a way of generating the intrinsic motivation to drive more success. Also, there has been a heavy focus on the manager as facilitator and what they might choose to do differently to impact people and performance.

Going Postal,” made it as a descriptive phrase for “losing it” — in American English slang, according to Wikipedia, it means becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment. The expression derives from a series of incidents starting in 1983  in which US Postal Service workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police and general public. Between 1986 and 1997, more than forty people were gunned down in at least 20 such incidents of workplace rage.

A Bing search on “going postal cartoon” turned up over 3000 cartoons (many are a hoot!) and a google search showed 206,000 hits on the phrase (but no numbers for the cartoon images). Clearly, this is a mainstream theme. Why?

Workplace Rage is the end result of workplace frustration, and there is a lot of that these days. Statistics from different sources show that many workplaces are frustrating and sometimes intimidating…

  • In the United Kingdom, research found that 53% of employees had been victims of workplace bullying and that 78% had witnessed such behavior.
  • 52% of Americans have “witnessed, heard about, or experienced a violent event or an event that can lead to violence at their workplace.
  • A 2011 Massey University (NZ) survey of 96 organizations found more than half had experienced workplace violence.
  • In Taiwan, 13% of all employees frequently suffer from heavy pressure in their work, and 24% have emotional problems, such as anxiety, depression, irritability. 

And those factors can explode:

In Minneapolis in 2012, a man killed 5 co-workers, a UPS driver and himself after he was fired from his job at a sign company. He was given a warning the week before the attack for being chronically late — 35 workdays in a row in August and September – and his manager wrote him that his constant tardiness a problem that needed to be “rectified immediately.” While being fired, he pulled out a gun and started shooting, killing the company’s founder, three other Accent employees, and a UPS driver before killing himself. And the lateness was an early signal that things were not good insofar as morale…

The workplace shooting situation is so common that the safety video, “RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.”  has 2.3 million hits. Clearly people are concerned about this issue and there is a good bit of harassment and intimidation in the workplace globally. (I will post some of that stuff up and link to it here, at a later time)

There are lots of causal factors. And solutions are varied.

The issue would seemingly be addressed by improving workplace engagement and teamwork. If people felt more positive support for their efforts, one would logically conclude that normal people would be less frustrated and volatile.

If the managers did a better job of communicating and listening to ideas for improvement, there would be more continuity and involvement among the people. If workers felt that managers were interested in helping them make improvements, the numbers of dis-engaged and actively un-involved would drop.

A lot of the un-engaged workers are pretty visible. I call them Spectator Sheep:

Spectator Sheep poem

What does it take to involve them? Generally, not that much. My experience says that they want to be heard and have their grievances considered.  They want their managers to listen to what they see as problems or workplace issues and, often, allow them to work with others in teams to help modify or impact those concerns.

Performance Management Company offers a series of simple to use illustrations and team building exercises to directly address the issue of Manager as Facilitator. We have been developing and marketing these programs since 1993 and they have global use and you can see a few of them here.

We have packaged simple Square Wheels toolkits and facilitation guides to help generate active involvement and ownership.

Discover the Road haiku

Our flagship team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, is directly focused on building collaboration and on implementing workplace change and improvement.

Managing Mud

Users say that our products are exceptionally easy to use and highly effective. Give me a call and I will be pleased to share ideas and possibilities,

For the FUN of It!

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 864-292-8700 or at scott@squarewheels.com

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

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Defense is not good for Innovation – Thoughts on Engagement for Innovation

There was an interesting thread on the Innovation Excellence group on LinkedIn, one that talks about an Anti-Innovation Checklist posted by Holly Green. You can see that post at www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2012/02/23/3/

In think her 10 bullets are good, but it feels like she missed the bigger picture of the reality that employee engagement is more all-encompassing. I think there is more to it.

The list is about what is wrong and not about what to do to address the issues and make improvements. She talks about “unrealistic expectations” in the sense on management looking for “a killer product” while I think that performance improvement is more about having performance goals and objectives that do not allow much thinking, much less alternative thinking.

Consider the customer, which we should all be doing all of the time anyway. The customer calls with an issue and the position of the employee is so often one of defending the turf rather than listening to the problem for some idea as to how to improve the product.

For the past 4 days, I have been having what are apparently a series of different problems with U-Verse and my TV and internet and wireless connections here. Five different technicians have visited the house. And a wide variety of different phone calls to various places around the world.

I can test the connection, but I am limited to running a “speed test” — they show me various computer screens that give them a LOT more data about the connection and such information including history. All I can say is “the TV locks up and un-synchs” or “Safari pauses and locks up.” One would think that someone might develop some application or process that would allow ME to make a more informed phone call to Victor in India, right?

Customer-driven innovation? NO way — they are too busy to meet their performance numbers to listen for better ideas as to how to do things… There is no real mechanism for making improvements. They are too busy solving the problems at hand.

As I so often write, my view of how organizations really work looks like this:

But maybe things more realistically look like this in most workplaces:

SWs One How Things Work ©

How things REALLY work in many workplaces

And how things REALLY work in many workplaces

and when we add senior management, maybe this is more of a normal reality:

It is the perception of how things work that is most important.

It is the perception of how things work that is most important.

A logical result of the situation generally depicted above will often then look like this:

People will circle the wagons and defend themselves…

and continued attacks also generate more predictable results:

That thus reminds me that I wrote up a poem about this:

Square Wheels Defensive wagon poem

And that reminds me of a quote from Dante that many might think should appear over the door of the buildings in which they work:

What to do? I don’t have one of those 5-step or 10-bullet lists. Mine is one pretty simple one, although there are five rules:

ASK — ASK — ASK — ASK — ASK

Ask for ideas for improvement. Allow people to get involved and engaged and to share their ideas. Support them as they try to implement improvements, recognizing that many have long histories of failure or punishment linked to their attempts to make things better. Recognize that they cannot be empowered and that many are un-empowered.

So take actions to dis-un-empower them. Form teams. Share ideas. Act as if their ideas are important. Let them generate their own intrinsic rewards for making things better.

We sell a simple toolkit for facilitating involvement and engagement. Click on the link below to see how it works:

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

 

And, if you would like to see more about our outstanding team building exercise, we offer a slideshare overview here:

Slideshare Dutchman icon

The key idea in all this is for leadership to get out of the way and let them make improvements. Let people play with the wheels…

Square Wheel Playing haiku

 

Give them hope and support. And ask for their ideas,

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

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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