An exciting future for the EEA

I am delighted to share some exciting news about how we are strengthening the Alliance team.

Firstly, I am very pleased to announce that in 2017, the Alliance will be led by Ruth Dance.

Ruth Dance is one of our Founding 40 and has been committed to the Alliance from day one. Ruth has been at the forefront of employee engagement for over a decade. She has worked nationally and internationally for Christie’s, MITIE and, more recently, News UK as their Head of Customer & People Development. Her roles have focused on developing strong internal cultures. Her years working within Employee Development have allowed her the opportunity to design and deliver a diverse range of training programmes as well as becoming a qualified business coach and Myers Briggs practitioner. She is also a judge for the Employee Engagement Awards.

Ruth will join us towards the end of January. She has asked me to pass on this message to our members and supporters:

“The Alliance is fantastic in bringing like-minded people together to focus on the positive impact that employee engagement has on business success. Having been involved with the EEA since launch, I am now incredibly excited to be leading the organisation into the future. You can be sure that all my energy will be focused on two things – ensuring that all our members are getting full benefit from their membership and working with our members to prove the value that employee engagement delivers to organisations and to individuals.”

Although Ruth doesn’t start work until the end of January, please feel free to contact her @ ruth@the-eea.com.

Secondly, Dan Coulthard has joined the Board. Dan will be responsible for overseeing our digital and online presence as we seek to make our services even more accessible to members  in 2017.

We are also strengthening our team in a number of other areas and we have a range of exciting plans to improve our events and other services. You can be reassured that the Alliance will be true to its founding goals and that 2017 will see increased momentum in our drive to be the standard bearer for professional development in employee engagement.

To make sure our plans reflect your needs, we have created a short feedback survey. It should take no longer than three minutes to complete. We will send the survey to you in a separate email.

May I take this opportunity to wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous 2017.

Kind regards

Crispin Manners
Chairman

For more information on the Employee Engagement Alliance, visit our website at the-eea.com.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Use an Enterprise Social Network

by guest blogger emplo

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Most of us are familiar with some form of social media that we use for various reasons both business and personal. In this day and age, it’s hard to even go outside without hearing about the latest on Facebook or Twitter. Many networking opportunities have also opened up with businesses as job seekers and hiring managers have come together on LinkedIn. The hot topic this year, however, is something of an inside-out version of social media, though it is a bit more complicated than that. Enterprise social network is revolutionizing the way many companies do business and facilitate collaboration between management and employees.

So why should companies be paying more attention to this trend? Well, a few reasons come to mind.

1.Increased Employee Morale

It’s no secret that a happy employee is a good employee. When employees enjoy their jobs and are happy where they are they are more likely to be productive, to bring fewer conflicts, and of course, they are more likely to stay at their jobs. Employee retention and productivity are vital to a company’s success and most agree that low or standard turnover rates are a big plus.

So what does this have to do with an enterprise social network? Employees are more likely to be happier if they know that their voices and ideas are heard by management. Aside from that, however, there are studies that at least suggest that in general people are happier when they’re connected to social media. Judging by this couldn’t one say that an enterprise social network could also have the same effect, that an employee will be happier at his or her job if they’re connected to the company?

2.Improved Communication Between Employees and Management

One of the areas where many companies fail to successfully implement an ESN is in the area of listening. Often an enterprise social network fails to engage employees and no one ends up using it. For this reason, many companies give up on the idea before they even begin. On the other hand, those with the business savvy to do so, have very successfully engaged in the art of listening. So why is this important? Who knows better than the employee what happens on the floor? Some of the best ideas come from seemingly the most unlikely of places, and when those ideas are heard, listened to, and receive a real response – companies thrive. Take for example JobCloud – a Swiss recruitment company. Since they have started using an enterprise social platform – emplo, communication between their German and French-speaking branches has become much more effective. Employees are up to date with what’s happening in different offices, they express their opinions more freely and are more keen on sharing ideas.

3. Enhanced Collaboration

As you probably know, the most important aspect of effective collaboration is communication. Communication failure is the most frequent problem that businesses face which cripples companies to the core. This includes communication within departments, between departments, and of course communication between management and personnel. When the lines of communication are both solid and open it empowers the employee, which empowers the organization. In addition, employees are more productive, and happier at their jobs when they are informed and connected.

4. Reduced Internal Emails and Increased Productivity

Many companies that implemented an ESN have stated that a few of the goals include reducing the overall volume of company emails as well as reducing the need for company meetings. These traditional forms of communication can often be lost in translation and they take up time, effort, and ultimately money in implementation that could be used building profits. So what’s the solution? A social media platform! An ESN allows companies to distribute company-wide information at a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time. For example, Smart MBC after implementing emplo have managed to reduce the number of internal emails by an overwhelming 97%. It also had a very positive impact on the employee productivity.

5 . Geographically Dispersed Teams Brough Closer Together

In the case of larger companies, time and space tend to complicate things a little in the way of communication. How do you get an idea or an important bit of information to members of a company that crosses international borders? Even with the advancements of internet communications, that’s still no easy endeavor. It turns out thatCoca-Cola and a few other companies used these platforms to do just that, and have never regretted it.

Earning employee respect: the first key to engagement

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by guest blogger Deb Lavoy

Recently we conducted a survey to explore differences in how employees and executives view issues around employee engagement. We learned a lot and we shared our findings in a white paper. We observed that the strongest predictor of employee engagement turns out to be a tie between the level of employee respect for executive leadership, pride in working for the company, a positive feeling about the company culture, and a sense that your work matters.

That’s not very surprising. What may surprise you is that the presence of an employee engagement program is not nearly as strong a predictor of engagement as these other factors. In other words, we learned that you must invest your efforts in building leadership respect, pride, meaning, and a positive culture. That’s what makes the difference.

That’s easy to say. But what can you do about it?

Let’s take them one at a time. Respect for leadership first. Executives themselves are key to deepening the level of respect employees have for them. Reading, research, and personal observation suggest that there are four things that make leaders respected:

  1. Competence

Needless to say, people respect competence. But when judging their leaders, people are not necessarily (or at least not only) looking for technical competence. People are looking for competence in decision-making and problem solving. They would like you to be someone that remains calm and capable even when things get hard or complicated.

If you know you have some leadership skills that need work, be bold enough to acknowledge the gaps to yourself, if not to others. Find coaches and mentors outside your organization who either exhibit these traits you want to build, or find other ways to focus on your strengths while finding ways to work with your challenges. Be brave enough to acknowledge both your strengths and your weaknesses within your organization. Also be aware that you may be blind to some of your weaknesses. Talk to people whose insight you trust and respect. You will be all the more powerful for it.

  1. Integrity

If what you say in “private” contradicts what you say in public, you will not be trusted. If you are known to enable and promote political shenanigans in the workplace, people will disrespect you for it. If employees believe that you are not acting in your customers’ best interests or in theirs, you will not be respected. If you say diminishing or demeaning things about people, you may be feared, but you will not be respected.

All this may seem obvious, but realize that it’s very easy for people to misinterpret your good judgment. Even if you know you’re making decisions in accordance with a strict code of values, it’s important to make that known. In cases where decisions are hard, because all options seem to compromise one value or another, it may be a great opportunity to draw attention to the decision. Explain how you see the pros and cons. Let people see that you will make a hard or unpleasant decision for the right reasons.

  1. Humility

People rarely respect people who think they have all the answers. People who ask great questions earn more respect than those who believe they are right about everything. But the key issue here is that you want your team to offer you their best. If you never ask for their ideas and input, you’ll never get most of what you’re paying for.

Two of the world’s most respected leaders – the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis – are known for their humility. While religious leadership and humility seem to make sense together, a lot of business leaders are not sure about their relationship with humility. How can you be humble and command respect at the same time?

Two things. First, remaining open-minded is a form of humility that most leaders can be comfortable with. Open-minded leaders listen and ask questions. They allow for the possibility that they may not be the smartest person in the room every day and on every topic.

The second component of humble leaders is that they make a point of discerning and respecting the strengths in others. A leader who can sincerely, rather than patronizingly, see and acknowledge the strengths in others rapidly earns respect. Even better, he or she sets an example of behavior that builds a very positive culture and organization. Beware though. People are very good at discerning the difference between sincere respect and lip service. They can tell when you’re trying to check the box. Employee appreciation, when honest and sincere, is deeply appreciated. Half-hearted, insincere or hollow praise is toxic.

  1. Visibility and transparency

If you’re a great decision-maker, remain calm under pressure, remain open-minded, and make decisions with only the best of intentions – you’re certainly a leader who has earned respect.

You will, however, only be as respected as you are visible. As an executive you’re a role model to your entire organization. You need to ensure that people can see how you make decisions and understand your reasoning. This is not a matter of self-promotion. This is how you earn the respect you need for your employees to feel engaged and able to do their best work.

Distrust and disrespect grow in dark corners unlit by information and visibility into what’s really going on. When people are left in the dark, they make things up. They rarely invent good and noble visions of what’s going on behind closed doors or back at headquarters.

Be in front of your team every day. If not physically, then digitally. Post a note, a comment, an essay, a status update, or an interesting article to your intranet. Ask a question. Be present. Be visible. Be known. Be the leader, not just of a company, but of a community.

Earning the respect of your employees is a worthy goal in and of itself. But it comes with the added benefit of winning the loyalty and dedication of your workforce. A well respected leader – according to our survey – has an average of 15% higher level of employee engagement. That translates into lower turnover, higher customer satisfaction, and greater financial performance. It’s also what leadership is about.

It’s satisfying to know that true employee engagement rests on building better leadership and approach to people. It’s not about picnics and awards. Some of these factors we’ve identified may seem hard to nail down. We’re finding more and more, however, that we can examine these issues more rigorously than in the past. We will publish more thorough analysis and practical advice on each of the core topics we found have meaningful impact: respect, positive culture, meaningful work, and pride in company.

Leading in the age of transparency

An interview with Rod Cartwright, Partner at Ketchum, and Kieran Colville, Director at Ketchum Change.

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Why is this the ‘age of transparency’ and what does that mean?

Rod: When we use the term transparency we are referring to the blurred line between the internal operations of a business and the external world of consumers, stakeholders and the media.  The line has been blurred mainly through the rise in digital and social media, which sees free-flowing information and content seized on and shared instantly.  This has changed the game for leaders because if the idea that they could “control” their organisation’s corporate culture and reputation was ever a reality, it most certainly isn’t now.

Kieran: I agree Rod, the game has changed.  You don’t need to look very far to find examples of employee communications that were “leaked”, got picked up by the media, and went viral, forcing leaders to respond and take action.  Those stories may have happened 20 years ago but today they spread so much faster and wider.

Can you tell us more about what the wider implications could be if an organisation fail to react?

Kieran: There are several.  Potential employees may be turned off; current employees may become disengaged; and ultimately consumers may question whether they would want to continue purchasing from this company. This is the crucial point.  Now more than ever, how engaged employees are, and therefore how much they promote and recommend the organisation, has a much larger impact on consumer confidence and loyalty than it used to because of this increased “transparency.”

Rod:  Indeed! And this has been one of the key findings of our global Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM) study, which we’ve been running for five years now. The research with consumers across five continents sets out to answer two simple questions: “What does the world think of its leaders?” and “What can those leaders do to restore confidence?”  We have found that poor corporate leadership prompts one in two respondents to stop purchasing or to purchase less.

Kieran: To make it simple: leadership drives employee engagement, which drives consumer loyalty.  In 2014, “employees we know” came in at No.3 on the list of determinants of consumers’ purchasing behaviour, with the CEO coming in at No. 10 and other senior management at No. 13.  Leaders cannot ignore the importance of creating the right culture and engaging employees in the right way, as they are the brand ambassadors in today’s world.

This makes sense.  So how bad is the current state of affairs?

Rod: At no point in five years of running KLCM have more than 25 percent of respondents said leaders are leading well.  So consumer confidence is consistently poor, with demonstrable commercial consequences.

Kieran: What Rod said.  It is that stark.

Yes, that is glaring data.  It sounds like something the CEO should care about personally.

Rod: Absolutely.  However, in 2015 we highlighted the rise of the title-less leader, with respondents overwhelmingly favouring leadership provided by the entire organisation and everyone within it, rather than just from the CEO or senior management.

Kieran: From the study, respondents look strongly to leaders at all levels who seek collaborative solutions rather than doing it alone; are open and honest about the nature and scale of the challenges ahead; and have a clear overall vision for how their organisation can survive and thrive.  At Ketchum Change we have developed a practical model for helping leaders build capabilities in these areas: our approach is called Liquid Change Leadership to reflect the need to be readily adaptable in today’s volatile and complex environment.

Sounds very relevant.  How can leaders apply this Liquid Change Leadership model?

Kieran: It is very practical and actionable.  It has four capability areas: Transparent, Dialled-In, Pioneering and Agile, each with a positive level to do more of and a negative level to eliminate.  We will be covering this at our event on 20 October so you’ll have to come to find out more.

Rod: At the event we will also dive into the study in more detail.  The latest results point to leadership communication that needs to be more “feminine” and diverse, and we will discuss what this means.

Sounds intriguing, I will definitely be there.  Thank you both for your time today.

Kieran: Thank you, this is a critical area for leaders at a critical time, so we appreciate the opportunity to discuss it.

Rod: Thank you.  See you on 20 October.

Interview by James Murphy EEA

Kieran and Rod will be speaking at our next event on October 20th – Leading in the age of transparency

 

Your Culture Is About How You Treat People

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by guest blogger Deb Lavoy

Over the last few months we’ve been sharing what we learned when we asked 320 people about their level of engagement at work, along with a bunch of other things, such as how employees view executives, and how executives view employees. We published a white paper with Brian Solis on what he called the “Engagement Gap” – the difference between employee and executive views of engagement. Since then, we’ve published discussions on the three of four things that we found most impact employee engagement: respect for leadership, work that matters, and pride in company. Now we’re looking at another major predictor of high employee engagement – a positive view of the corporate culture.

Interestingly, a positive view of culture is the least powerful of the four employee engagement predictors. This could very well be, however, because of the fact that “culture” is not a very well understood idea.

Ask someone in the field what organizational culture is, and they’ll say something like “a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations.” But what does that actually mean? How do you build a positive culture?

You’ve heard the expression that life is what happens while you’re doing something else? Well, so is culture. A company’s culture is a behavioral experience, but it’s also an emotional one. To get that positive culture – the one that makes employees feel engaged and committed, you want that to be a positive emotional experience. Why?

Whether or not you believe the recent New York Times story on the culture at Amazon, you can be certain that parts of it are true. You’ve probably been in situations that echo that nastiness. It’s what I call “management by fear.” It makes you sick, it dulls your creativity, it makes work 99% anxiety and tricks people into stretching themselves far too thin in order to prove something. This is clearly a toxic environment. Did Amazon set out to create a toxic environment? Not likely.

A recent Harvard Business Review article “Why organizations don’t learn” cites a gap similar to the Engagement Gap. They cite the gap between the fact that nearly all companies believe innovation and learning are essential to success, and how few companies are consistently successful in doing that. The learning gap is not about intelligence but about fear of failure and the need to sustain the status quo. This fear begins with the CEO, who passes it down through the ranks. It would seem that fear is the most common barrier to a good culture. It prevents us from treating one another with the respect and compassion that great collaboration and great culture demands.

Why so scared?

We fear failure, we fear our own vulnerabilities. We fear the scorn of others. The classic hierarchical organization is a perfect environment for fear to flourish and grow. It’s a rare and remarkable leader who can overcome these fears and create an environment of learning, listening, common aspirations, and trust.

Can you set out to create a positive culture?

You can set out to create a positive learning environment. You can commit to a set of values that you believe in. You can model the behavior you want to see. You can hire people who share your attitudes and values – as long as you balance that with the need for diversity that is clearly required for real innovation.

But first, you need to be clear-eyed and honest about your intentions. Is it your intention to invest in people because they will drive profitability? Or is it your intention to pursue profitability at the expense of people? Be honest with yourself. The former requires a significant act of faith – that people can and will do great things in the right environment.

Several recent research articles attribute hiring, training, and promotion practices as key drivers of culture. This makes some sense, as it looks to “attitudes and behaviours” which are about people interacting with people. Healthy, Mexican fast food chain, Chipotle, has been hiring for the values they think will make them successful. That is, they don’t hire for skills, they hire for values and attitudes. Then they train. A lot.

Costco has a similar approach. They hire well, pay well, and train, train, train. And, as compared with Walmart, they are vastly more efficient and profitable. This recent Bloomberg article cites Costco’s average hourly wage as $20.89 vs Walmart’s $12.67. They also note some (radical) differences in their stock performance. The pay differential is only one of many differences in the two approaches to employees. The level of training and commitment to those employees is fundamental to building that culture of treating each other well.

Why does training matter? The more capable your people are, and the more deeply they understand the business, the more you can trust their judgment. If you can trust someone’s character (because that’s why you hired them) and trust someone’s judgment (because you’ve given them all the training they need) you can let them use their discretion. You no longer need to micromanage them. You can allow them to think, to serve to commit. You can allow them to do good. Importantly, this also allows you to do good. It’s an act of courage. It’s an act of humility that recognizes the value and potential contribution of others. It’s a mindset that believes you are not the only smart person in the room.

Even more so, all this training and compassion allows employees to treat one another with respect, trust, and compassion. They are confident in one another’s skills. They are respectful, confident, and humble in balance. Training and values can do that.

It would appear that these different approaches also have a very noticeable impact on performance and momentum.

 

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So how can we invest in a positive culture?

  1. Commit to a set of principles or values that drive your decision making after examining the truth and depth of your commitment to them.
  2. Hire and train people in accordance with those values.
  3. Encourage everyone to treat one another well, by treating them well.
  4. Ensure that those people and those values inform every decision.
  5. Fight your fear with courage and humility, and help everyone else do the same.

So the real secret to a great culture is to treat one another well. The secret to treating people well is to think about what your values are and commit to them. The Scylla and Charybdis of positive culture are hypocrisy and fear. They will constantly try to undermine your efforts. It takes ongoing courage, humility, and compassion to help yourself and your team past them.

There are companies whose management will berate and bully people. But there are also companies that have the courage to invest in people and build trust in them and vice versa. We’re delighted to see that the good guys are winning with employees, customers, and the stock market.

Bridging the Engagement Gap: an ebook

by guest blogger Bev Attfield

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At Jostle we know that employee engagement is one of the key factors involved in creating happy, healthy workplaces. We also know that there are many questions surrounding the topic of employee engagement. What instigates it? What impacts it? What can we do in the workplace to promote, achieve, and celebrate it?

To answer some of these questions, we worked with Brian Solis, a known author and analyst in the field. We got more than 300 executives and employees to tell us about their employee engagement experiences. Our investigation uncovered some really interesting findings that we published in a white paper.

Turns out, employee engagement is something that can be quantified and measured. It also turns out there’s a pretty huge gap, an Engagement Gap, in many workplaces. The Engagement Gap is the massive discrepancy between how executives feel about employee engagement and how employees feel about it.

Our research also uncovered four key factors highly correlated with employee engagement:

  • Respect for leadership
  • Pride in working for your company
  • A positive company culture
  • Belief that your work matters

In order to make these findings as useful to you as possible, we’ve consolidated the material into a handy ebook called Bridging the Engagement Gap. Here we take a closer look at these four factors, and offer practical advice on how to close the gap. The ebook has simple, actionable strategies to build engagement and take the right actions to create a healthy and happy workplace culture. We hope this resource will help you think about the issue of employee engagement more clearly, and make your workplace better today.

Close the Engagement Gap today! Download The ebook

How Goosey are you and your team?

Enhancing brands through people engagement, hidden assets and business development strategies
By guest blogger Damian McAlonan

I  was invited the other week to an exciting tech start-up in the UK to discuss how they could define and improve their culture. Without going into the details they wanted to increase both trust and collaboration within their 14 teams of 8-12 individuals.

I couldn’t help but start with sharing Angeles Arrien speech on the five lessons from Geese – It’s an oldie but a goodie and still relevant for setting a behavioural framework of how an effective team should act.

Here it is.

1. As each goose flap its wings it creates an“uplift” for the birds that follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: People who share a common sense of direction and community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.

2. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

3. When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership, as with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skill, capabilities and unique arrangement of gifts, talents or resources.

4. The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the productivity is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

5. When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay until it dies or can fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

So, tell me how Goosey are you or your team and are you really getting and giving enough honking?

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