Monday, November 30, 2009

Leading the ENGAGED Company

Over the last 18 months, there has been truckloads written on the importance of employee engagement during this recession and keeping focused on it as we crawl out of the recession.

Our company believes that engagement is NOT a program but it is an integral part of the culture and leaders should encourage and reward "engagement" behaviors. We also believe that you must look at employee engagement along with customer engagement due to the relationship between the two, known as the Service Mirror or Spillover Effect.

So, if engagement is not an event or a program, but an integral part of the culture of the company....How do you LEAD an ENGAGED company?

1) You must understand what engages YOUR workforce because although there are many simlar engagement drivers from company to company, your strategy and culture are different. The order of those drivers may also be different. In other words, clearly defined expectations may be number one in your company and number six in another.

2) You must measure those drivers making sure you are delivering on those to your employees.

3) Understand what drives your customers engagement and align your deliverables around those.

4) You must measure those drivers making sure your are delivering on those to your customers.

5) Design rewards and performance management systems with engagement in mind, making sure engagement of employees and customers are a component of both.

6) Engagement is EVERYONE'S job. It's not just HR's job, it is not just management's job. Everyone is responsible for both employee and customer engagement.

7) Allow employees to make customer recovery decisions at the point of service failure. This gives the employee the authority (influences engagement) and potentially saves a dissatisfied customer from telling all their friends about the experience.

8) Leaders must communicate and behave in a way that lets employees know that the customer is first and is the center of everything you do....the KEY is walking the talk. Employees know the difference. They can sense a service culture.

This list is not exhaustive by any means, please help me add to this list from your own experiences in leading engaged companies.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How Does HR Add to Profits?

Sometimes, I get asked a question that really makes me stop and think.  I have had the pleasure of teaching and speaking at least 25-30 times per year.  A few weeks ago, I was teaching an HR Essentials class.  We were discussing how HR adds value to the organization when a very smart young lady asked me, "Well how does HR add to profits?"

I believe she cut to the chase...adding value really means adding dollars to the bottom line.  So, of course I threw the question out to the class and asked for their input.  Here is what they said:

1) HR prevents lawsuits
2) HR hires good people
3) HR saves money by implementing cost effective benefits programs
4) HR makes sure salaries are competitive thus saving compensation dollars

I believe all the above are true, but with the exception on number 2, those are cost saving activities.  These activities are great, but it still doesn't answer the question of ADDING to profits.

So after weeks of contemplation, I have a few to add to the list:

5) HR adds to profits by designing and IMPLEMENTING true pay for performance systems that incent those people that are truly meeting and exceeding expectations thus adding to profits by increasing revenues and reducing costs. 
6) HR adds to profits by making sure the organizations strategy is communicated and cascaded to the lowest level of the organization.  This activity makes sure that all employees know what is important, what is expected and how they will be measured.  This focus allows employees to direct their activities that lead to goal attainment and bottom line results.

I had others but you tell me what you think.....I would love to create a good list of how HR adds to profits and then create metrics to correspond with each item, thus creating a blueprint for an HR scorecard that points to what our CEO's care about...PROFIT!

Here is a motivator....I will share the results with all of please send me your comments on this subject!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Say "Goodbye" to Engagement Programs and "Hello" to Engaged Companies

Last week we discussed why "Good Programs Fail." Thank you for the your comments on the subject. This week, I would like to discuss why engagement is not a program, but a key organizarional outcome.Employee engagement has been getting a lot of press lately. Companies are in uncharted territory with this economy so some are being reactive and trying anything to survive. (program of the month).

I would argue that your employees are where your revenues are made and lost. Specifically, where employees interact with the customer and then the customer decides whether to buy, re-buy, refer or seek another provider. We refer to this interaction as the service mirror or spillover effect when customers reflect employees engaged behaviors and vice versa.

I believe engagement is not about an employee survey program but about how the entire company is engaged with the organizational strategy, how the employees are engaged in their work, how the customers are engaged in the products and services and how leadership inspires employees, engaging them with the company via their heart and their mind.

Engagement is an outcome leading to desired business results such as profitability, revenue, market share or cost reductions.

How can you tell if your company is engaged?

1) Measure engagement levels in each of the 5 key organizational areas: strategy, leadership, culture, employee and customer.

2) Identify engagement gaps

3) Create action plans that address the gaps

4) Drill action plans down to individual level

5) Create Metrics that Matter to your company tracking performance

6) Communicate goals, metrics, success and progress

Do you have an engagement program or an engaged company?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Do Good Programs Fail?

We have so many programs at work.  The list is long and varied...

1) Change Management Programs
2) Employee Engagement Programs
3) Team Building Programs
4) Customer Service Programs
5) Six Sigma Programs
6) Pay for Performance Programs
7) Putting Customers First Programs
8) Going Green Programs
9) Casual Day Friday Programs (attempt at humor, not serious about this one)
10) Wellness Programs
12) Process Improvement Programs

And so on.....and so on.

I have to ask myself, why do well intentioned programs like the ones above fail to deliver on their original promises?  In case there is some skepticism about my premise, consider the following:

  • One-third of all change management programs fail
  • One half of customers leave within a five year period
  • At least 50% of surveyed employees report being disengaged or ACTIVELY disengaged at work
In our experience, programs fail due to failure to execute.  But why do we fail to execute?  In my experience we have very detailed procedures that go with our programs, there is usually quite a lot of effort and expense associated with them, we may have training around the programs and we often times have a lot of hoopla and excitement.  We buy t-shirts and coffee mugs.  What is the problem?

So to restate the question, Why do we fail to execute on well intentioned programs?

I have some ideas on this, but would LOVE to hear from you on why you think programs fail.  To incent you to participate, I am announcing ICC's Blog Commenting Program.  It is very easy, the 1st, 10th and 25th person to comment will win a very cool prize.  (to be mailed to you)

To start you off, here is a reason why I think we have failure to execute:

1) Employees are unsure of the reason for the program to start with

Now it's your turn!