A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here
Founder: I can’t be a good leader without knowing my people. How I can contribute to their life?
Me: You are going to have a lot of people who have no interest in sharing their personal life with you or having you contribute to it other than providing a great place to work.
Founder: How? I am a leader who prefers 1 on 1
Me: It’s not about you, it’s about them and what interaction they prefer; and as the company grows you will not have time or access for 1/1, unless you plan to interfere with your managers’ organizations. What it is about is the culture you create.
Founder: You can’t lead if you can’t connect.
Me: Connection is not always 1/1; that’s why culture is so important.
Founder: You have to know your people.
Me: No, you need to know your direct reports and know that they are supporting your culture. Anyway, good leadership should be spread around your company and not just the province of certain positions.
Founder: You can’t convince me. I have had coffee with my subordinates to know them and that catapulted us. Culture is about having a tea, cappuccino with my subordinates and talking about stuff, then car-pooling.
Me: I’m not saying to stop, I’m saying it won’t work with everyone, plus, you won’t have time as the company grows. There are many people who have no interest in that kind of intimate, personal relationship with their boss, but are world-class hires. They care about the company’s culture because they know it reflects the founder’s values.
Me: Moreover, bosses who can only relate 1/1 are often seen as playing favorites, because they tend to favor those who respond to their approach.
Me: If you try to cram every hire into any one, narrow MAP it will cost you talent and engagement, because those who don’t like it will either walk or disengage.
Me: The important takeaway here is that when it comes to worker interaction one size does not fit all.
2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, their annual comprehensive study of HR, leadership, and talent challenges, the top ten talent challenges reported for 2015 are: culture and engagement, leadership, learning and development, reinventing HR, workforce on demand, performance management, HR and people analytics, simplification of work, machines as talent, and people data everywhere.
The first three are nothing new; the terms have changed over the years, although not the meaning behind them or their ranking as top concerns.
In a major employee retention push, companies are turning to algorithms and analytics to mine a raft of data, identify which employees are most likely to leave and then try to change their minds.
But some things never seem to change and until they do companies won’t make much headway.
At Credit Suisse, managers’ performance and team size turn out to be surprisingly powerful influences (emphasis added –ed.), with a spike in attrition among employees working on large teams with low-rated managers.
With decades of research saying the same thing, it makes one wonder why the finding was “surprising.”
In fact, nothing will change until companies, bosses and the media stop being surprised every time a survey shows that talent acquisition and retention is most influenced by
The more a customer shops at a particular store or eats at a particular restaurant, the more likely they are to stop shopping there when employees leave.It stands to reason that you would get to know the people at a place you patronize often, but IBM found that really loyal customers get so attached to employees that they complain on Twitter about having to “start over” if a favorite employee leaves. If they don’t feel like employees know them, this can really impact revenue because the loyal customers are the ones who spend the most money.
Do you find that surprising? I don’t, having done the same thing myself. (I’ve also switched brands when a favorite was acquired by a company I didn’t trust.)
Cost of customer acquisition is the most critical, prime metric when valuing any business, from startup through Fortune 50.
For the last few decades the prime focus has been on investors, while customers came in a long second; IBM’s findings move customers much closer to investors.
Why employee turnover results in customer defections isn’t the least surprising.
It’s a well accepted dictum that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers — or leave because of management turnover, so customers leaving for a similar reason makes sense.
However, employees are still a long third behind investors and customers.
When I started writing this blog back in 2006 I cited research by Frederick Reichheld that proved a 5% improvement in employee retention translated to a 25%-100% gain in earnings.
You would think that a 25% earnings increase, let alone higher, would be enough to get the attention of even the greediest Wall Street types, but obviously not, since low employee turnover is still cause for amazement.
Perhaps the new Twitter/IBM findings will help drive the needed change.
He did that with an irreverent (gently sarcastic?) take on the ills that engagement is supposed to cure and explaining five engaging actions that bosses at any/every level can and should take.
Wally is a gentleman and far more subtle than I, so he refrained from the blunt assessment I recently gave a client after recommending a similar program.
When “Richard” balked at the personal effort involved and excused his reluctance by saying he would rather “bring in professionals to formulate and implement a strong engagement program” I couldn’t stop laughing.
Richard was offended and we, as my 90 year-old maiden aunt used to say, had words.
The upshot was that I suggested Richard do two things,
find a coach who wasn’t into DIY and had a comprehensive list of consultants to recommend; and
update his resume now, since, based on his team’s productivity, creativity and turnover, he would be needing it sooner rather than later.
Last summer I wrote that the solution to having employees who care about their work and company was to look in the mirror, since their caring was a direct result of your management and the culture it engendered.
A few days ago Jeff Haden wrote in Inc. magazine about eight things people want that are a function of your MAP as opposed to your budget.
The words and explanations vary slightly, but this is the same advice I and dozens of other culture mavens have been saying for years.
Culture matters; it matters more than strategy, planning and even compensation.
Culture is your responsibility.
Culture is how you show you care.
Culture is you.
Whereas it’s barely possible to effectively live a personal lie, it just isn’t possible to propagate a culture based on one.
Not in ten lifetimes could you implement a culture that deviates from your basic values, your MAP, your essence.
You can provide what people crave, because you can change at any time you choose.
That’s the key, the choice is yours; it can’t be made for you by someone else or made by you because another desires it.
You can change, but only if you want to change.
Valentine’s Day is a good day to choose to start changing.
It won’t be easy; it will take more than a day; but it will take longer if you don’t start now.
It’s always surprising how often different sources address the same problems offering similar solutions, but in such different ways that at first glance you wouldn’t notice.
Within days of each other, both Fortune/CNN and BNET offered up good information on employee motivation. Fortune/CNN article was science-based, while BNET was experience-based, with a leavening of humor.
They both said essentially the same thing with one exception, which I’ll get to in a minute.
Motivating employees means providing real purpose in their work; it requires challenging them and encouraging them to learn and grow; and it requires clear communications, including well-defined plans, roles and responsibilities.
Pretty standard stuff.
Now for the exception; the science offered up a new twist that just might help your implementation.
Removing obstacles is not the flip side of providing purpose, challenge and clear communications.
In other words, this is not one of those times that removing the negative means the positive will automatically rush in to fill the void or vice versa, that having the positives will overcome the negatives.
In this case you need to address the two as totally separate subjects.
First, remove any obvious negatives.
Next, start implementing the positives.
Third, be on the lookout for new obstacles.
Fourth, and most important, be sure that you on the side of the angels and not one of the obstacles.
Are you one of the thousands of managers who spend your days trying to increase productivity and improve your company’s bottom line and you nights worrying that you aren’t doing it fast enough—if at all?
Does your company hire experts to teach motivation and employee engagement techniques?
Do you twist in the wind trying to implement complex, sometimes costly, approaches?
Why complex when some of the smartest CEOs, advisors and academics are all saying the same thing?
Simply put, in the words of Tony Hsieh, if your employees are happy they will make your customers happy; if your customers are happy they’ll spend more; if they spend more your bottom line will grow.
Saturday I gave you multiple links showing just how simple and inexpensive engaging your people can be—but not everybody reads Saturday.
So, instead of writing yet another post on engagement, I thought provide a video from Guy Kawasaki, who talks about how to “enchant” your employees.
His advice is simple and doable, although it does require the right MAP.
The only cost may be to your ego, since in order to implement it you need to change.
…more employees intend to stay with their employer, feel motivated to put forth extra effort, recommend their companies as a great place to work, and say they love their current organization.
What’s the difference; why such disparate results?
More research from Harvard shows that what excites and engages people has nothing to do with money and everything to do with managers (you knew that).
According to recent research, the single most important factor is simply a sense of making progress on meaningful work.
Next, two excellent survey-based articles about women and work.
First, research from Harvard Business Review, looks at the factors that impact both women and men when competing.
…how women and men perform at work may be strongly linked to the gender of the person they are competing against.
And from McKinsey comes advice based on feedback that focuses on changing deeply embedded attitudes.
…a survey we conducted earlier this year indicated that although a majority of women who make it to senior roles have a real desire to lead, few think they have meaningful support to do so, and even fewer think they’re in line to move up.
Gallup estimates the cost of America’s disengagement crisis at a staggering $300 billion in lost productivity annually.
$300 billion is a number that should get anyone’s attention.
The engagement issue is relatively simple and definitely cheap to solve.
The problem is that, as usual, employees and managers aren’t on the same page.
The research shows that for employees “the single most important [event] — by far — is simply making progress in meaningful work.”
Managers are another story.
“When we asked 669 managers from companies around the world to rank five employee motivators in terms of importance, they ranked “supporting progress” dead last. Fully 95 percent of these managers failed to recognize that progress in meaningful work is the primary motivator, well ahead of traditional incentives like raises and bonuses.”
What constitutes supporting progress isn’t rocket science, either.
Autonomy, meaning no micromanagement;
sufficient resources, meaning valid scheduling and enough of whatever to get the job done without having to beg or being left to fail without them; and
learning from problems, meaning understanding the why and how, not just the what.
If you find any of the three difficult to provide you need to look in the mirror.
The problem isn’t about having time to support progress; the problem is that your MAP doesn’t support the concept.