Drivers of Sustainable Workplace Engagement

Drivers of Sustainable Workplace Engagement

Companies that rank high for employee engagement are more profitable, more productive, have better customer ratings and fewer safety incidents (Gallup).

Here are five tips to help fire up employees engagement.

Before you take any of these steps, consider this a building exercise. In other words, these steps should be taken sequentially and over the course of a year or so, with each step building on the progress and momentum created by the ones before. This will protect from immediate rejection (too many new practices to absorb at once) and lead to a sustainable culture change.

1. Connect with employees. This starts with telling the story – this is the big picture vision of where the organization is going and why this particular company is uniquely able to get there. In addition, leaders should explain the roadmap – the plan for achieving their vision, including what it means for employees and their jobs. Establish an open communication environment by inviting, acknowledging and responding to employee questions, concerns and ideas. Importantly, leaders must keep the dialogue – and their visibility – going so that it becomes “the way we do business around here.”

2. Establish expectations. Set the workforce up for success by establishing behavioral expectations for managers and employees and providing the necessary resources and recognition to win. Objectives should include general business metrics (e.g., gross margin, productivity) as well as those reflecting key drivers of success, such as customer service levels and loyalty and recordable safety cases. Training in communicating and engaging employees can be provided to managers who wield the most influence over employees’ behavior.

3. Develop a Customer First mentality. Introduce the customer as the company’s “raison d’etre” (reason for being) by bringing them – and their ideas – into the company. Invite groups of employees to observe focus groups of customers and competitors’ customers discussing the pros and cons of the organization’s products or services. Hold follow-up meetings with the same employees to hear their reactions and brainstorm how the company can incorporate some of the new ideas. Ask these employees to go back into the workforce to assemble teams and see which team can come up with the most suggestions. Celebrate all of the suggestions by inviting all employees to a “Customer First” party.

4. Share best practices. Establish a mentoring program, matching high performers with those who are not as high performing (but don’t bill it this way publicly!). Ask the partners to identify and focus on two things that each partner can work on to improve, and ask them to commit to specific actions and monitor progress.

5. Make it personal. Engage employees in building a winning team by holding a “What’s the coolest part of working for ABC organization” contest. Submissions should be posted in a highly visible, high traffic area, such as the employee entrance or break room and employees can vote for winners in categories such as Most Creative, Most Practical, Most Customer Focused.

Setting the Stage for a Successful CEO Transition

Setting the Stage for a Successful CEO Transition

After a failed first attempt, #Starbucks #CEO Howard Schultz’s second departure announcement went much smoother. In a post for The CEO Magazine blog, I share why effective communication during a transition means more confidence from your stakeholders.

Here’s a preview of the post. (Visit the full blog post here.)

The steps necessary to mount a successful transition depend on whether the new leader comes from inside or outside of the organization. In both cases, investing time to understand and build on the relationships of the business is crucial.

Here are five keys to success for any new CEO:
  1. Carefully respond to and set expectations.
  2. Connect with employees.
  3. Identify and exploit quick wins.
  4. Get to know the influencers.
  5. In dire situations where market share is evaporating or where a company is losing money, a new CEO especially must act quickly.
3 Practices of Successful Change Initiatives

3 Practices of Successful Change Initiatives

Reorganizations? Transformations? Is your company planning change in 2017? In the latest issue of AMA Quarterly, I share tips on how to make change easier and more successful for all parties involved.

Here’s a preview. (You can read the full article here on pages six and seven.)

As companies work their way through change initiatives, reorganizations, and more, employees and leaders are reporting increased levels of change fatigue. How can we make change easier? A plethora of research exists to tell us what makes change initiatives successful—and certainly success is one way to alleviate the stress that comes with change.

So whether your organization plans to revamp processes or people roles or launch a large-scale transformation, it will help to keep the proven lessons and practices of successful change initiatives in mind. Here’s what some of the research shows:

Understand that openness and honesty about all aspects of the change build trust in leaders and organizations. 

Walk the talk by role modeling desired behaviors. 

Prepare for the many emotions and reactions expressed during layoffs. 

At On the Same Page, we help clients explore and deliver improved performance through employee engagement and communication. Never is this process more crucial than when an organization is in the midst of change.

Crisis Response Guiding Principles

Crisis Response Guiding Principles

When crisis strikes, leadership turns to Legal, Communication and Human Resources professionals for guidance. Invest time now in planning how you manage a crisis. You hope you never need the plan, but if you do, it’s too late to initiate the process once something catastrophic happens. Rapid response is critical in times of business crisis.

Here are the guiding principles, the DOs and DON’Ts of effective crisis management:

1. All responses should start with a focus on safety (employee, customer, community, environmental).

2. Cooperate with authorities and emergency personnel.

3. Plan to do more that what is needed in order to build back goodwill with employees, customers, partners, vendors, other stakeholders and the community.

4. Communicate quickly:

  • Be open and honest about what is happening or has happened.
  • Remain calm. Don’t retaliate. Don’t react to abrasive remarks.
  • Focus on safety and protecting the rights of employees (for privacy) and the company (legal rights).
  • Avoid waiting until you have all of the information to communicate. Say what you know now or today. Do not speculate, guess about what happened or offer your opinions.

Everybody makes mistakes. But having a solid plan in place to address the negative whiplash or complaints in a timely and transparent manner will not only help preserve your company’s reputation, but confirm yet again that you are a business that cares about its customers and willing to go an extra mile to make them happy and live up to your reputation.

10 Tips For Reputation And Crisis Management In The Digital World, Ekaterina Walter, Forbes

Will You Change the World? Top 5 Characteristics of a “Change Maker”

Will You Change the World? Top 5 Characteristics of a “Change Maker”

Are You a Change Maker?One person can change the world. Just look at inventors, politicians, political activists, religious figures, business leaders… History is full of people that have made a difference – for better or worse. What do these people have in common? Is there a formula for their success?

While many people may have wonderful ideas that could change the world, there is a core set of characteristics that define successful change makers. They are:

Curious and Creative Problem Solvers: Change makers become passionate about solving a problem (or problems). Inherently, they ask questions and look for creative ways to find solutions.

Risk Takers with Confidence and Courage: Instinct and intuition as their guide, change makers trust in themselves and preserver into new frontiers or against popular opinion.

Open-minded with a Positive Perspective: In order to succeed, change makers are optimistic about their results and success, and are open to different and new perspectives. This positivity and openness is what helps them see the solutions that lead to great change.

Engaging communicators: By the nature of a change maker’s passion for the change they seek, they must be able to inspire and motivate audiences for support. Change makers are storytellers that inspire action.

Doers with Ambition and Drive: Because of their passion for results, successful change makers will roll up their sleeves and dig into the work. They set up lofty goals and are willing to put in the hours until they reach them, very committed to success.

Who is your favorite change maker and what should we learn from him or her?

5 Ways to Build a Culture of Engagement

5 Ways to Build a Culture of Engagement

Connect with Employees

A Gallup Business Journal article states that “only about one-third of U.S. workers are engaged at work and just 13% of employees worldwide are engaged.” That’s a problem – especially since engagement has a direct effect on business results. Compared to their less engaged counterparts, companies that rank high for employee engagement are:

  • 21% more profitable
  • 17% more productive
  • have 10% better customer ratings
  • experience 41% less absenteeism and
  • suffer 70% fewer safety incidents

(Source: Gallup)

So how do you create engagement? Leadership communication is key.

Research shows a culture where leaders demonstrate trust, fairness and open communication are most effective at attracting and retaining top talent.

Where to start? Bite off one big initiative at a time. Here are five tips from Aon on how to build a strong culture of engagement:

  1. How You Operate: Reduce frustration…people want work that is enabled by the right resources and tools. Set them up for success. Make sure employees have what they need to get their jobs done — equipment, training, tools and resources, and a clear understanding of the task, the process and expectations.
  1. How You Communicate: Create a magnetic employer brand that attracts and motivates. Do you have an employee value proposition? Does your communication strategy embody your organization’s values and mission/vision? Do employees understand and connect with your strategy? Do you use your external marketing messages internally? Do you use storytelling to inspire and motivate?
  1. How You Compensate and Acknowledge: Pay and recognize people in alignment with individual and company performance.
  1. How You Develop: Build a clear path and options for horizontal or vertical growth.
  1. How You Strengthen Relationships: Provide opportunities and feedback that enables talent to grow and develop. What can you do – within your team – to enable productivity by making sure people have the tools and resources to get the work done? How can you connect your work with the strategy and business outcomes? How can you provide strengthen your team by providing feedback and opportunities for open conversation?

Every organization is different. Where would you start?  What are you hearing and seeing? If you’d like to start a conversation on where you would start, contact me at kerrigan@on-the-same-page.com.

4 Tips to Engage Hearts and Minds

4 Tips to Engage Hearts and Minds

Superior leaders lead through effective communication. The “secret sauce” is engaging hearts and minds to inspire action.

Did you know that many of the so-called “rational” decisions we make – and the way we behave – are governed by our emotions, and that our emotions have projective power over our thoughts? Emotions act as filters to form our desires, furnish our capacities, and to a large extent, rule our immediate thoughts. As we encounter fresh situations, become faced with novel problems or grapple with new ideas, our emotional response to each of these sets in motion the initial allocation of our mental resources. In essence, our first “read” of a new situation is always centered in our emotions, feelings and attitudes. As such, our emotions are laying the groundwork for the thinking that is to come.

Creating a powerful connection and compelling your stakeholders to take action requires engaging both the head and the heart – the mind and emotions. And for employees, engaging heads and hearts delivers higher levels of business impact faster. Here are four tips for more effective employee engagement:

1. Tell your story. Explain your organization’s vision and strategy to inspire and motivate. How? Simplify the strategy or vision in a way that resonates with employees (is personal and meaningful).

2. Set expectations. Employees want and need to know, clearly and specifically, what is expected of them. This includes both job tasks and organizational culture behaviors.

3. Actively listen. Everyone wants to be heard. Show your leaders, peers and employees that what they have to say is important by really listening. Put down your phone, turn to face whoever is speaking, avoid distractions and summarize what is said to you. Remember to take action after the conversation is over, if necessary. Actively listening shows respect and builds trust.

4. Communicate effectively. Provide the tools and coaching to help leaders and managers effectively communicate, fostering more productive and engaging relationships within their teams.

6 Activities that Influence Change Success

6 Activities that Influence Change Success

Organizations with highly effective ‪communication and ‪change management practices are more than twice as likely to significantly outperform their peers. Here are six activities that influence overall change success.

Six Activities that Influence Change SuccessLeading

Put together the right team for your change initiative and make sure you have support for top organizational leaders. Here are 10 Principles of Leading Change Management from strategy+business.

Communicating

People fear change. How can you overcome this? Plan to communicate… a lot. Simple, clear messages can overcome the fear of the unknown. Employees need to know what’s changing and when, why the change is happening (and how it fits into the bigger picture, i.e. the business strategy) and the process to execute the change, including a timeline or milestones. Repeat your key messages often throughout all of your various channels. Clarity, simplicity and consistency are key.

Listening

Listening to your stakeholders, and letting them know you’re acting on their feedback, is an important part of building trust. You can include listening into your transformation planning in different ways and at different times throughout the process. Hold focus groups, survey or poll employees to support your need for the change and get suggestions for what’s working or what improvements could be made. Test the new process, program or idea with a group of people before rolling it out. And ask for feedback after the change has been announced and/or after it’s happened. What questions and concerns do your stakeholders have? How are you addressing those concerns?

Measuring

Remember to include measurable goals in your transformation plan — goals can be monetary savings, actions your stakeholders have to take or a culture shift. Make sure to revisit these goals throughout the transformation.

Involving

Think about who needs to know what’s happening and who is indirectly affected by the change. Who should be part of the change team, who needs to support the initiative, who needs to be in the know though they’re not directly involved and which external stakeholders need to know?

Sustaining

Some change initiatives are short and fairly simple, and others are years and years in the making. In either situation, adjust the plan as needed. Stay focused on the outcome. Return to your goals. Repeat your key messages over and over.

For more information on engagement and change programs, email me at kerrigan@on-the-same-page.com.

Lessons from the Front Lines – Your Team Can Make or Break You

Lessons from the Front Lines – Your Team Can Make or Break You

Team communication can make or break your business.

Communication is an enabler of engagement, and employee engagement is the emotional and functional commitment an employee has to his or her organization. Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. So… strengthening your team’s communication skills will lead to engaged employees that support a high-performance culture.

To build a strong team be clear about roles and responsibilities, play to strengths, gather the team together daily and know your priorities. For more information about leader communication and communication training, email me at tracy@on-the-same-page.com.

Team communication can make or break you

WBENC 2016 Conference Highlights

WBENC 2016 Conference Highlights

WBENC Conference Highlights 2016Here are our favorite magical moments from the 2016 WBENC National Conference and Business Fair: http://bit.ly/28VDzbn. Thanks to all for your inspiration.

The largest conference of its kind for women business owners in the U.S., this event is attended by representatives of woman-owned businesses as well as diversity and procurement representatives from Fortune 500 organizations and the U.S. Government. These government agencies and partner organizations have missions that align with WBENC’s vision of expanding women’s business opportunities in the marketplace.

On the Same Page is proud to be certified as a Woman-Owned Business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and honored to support our clients’ commitments to maintain a culture of diversity – inside their organizations and with their external partners.

Get Comfortable with the Unknown

Get Comfortable with the Unknown

As a leader, yComfort with the Unknownou may not have all the answers. That’s okay. Leadership is about building a vision, informing employees and simplifying so people know what to do. Leaders create clarity out of ambiguity, simplify the complex, convert challenges into opportunities, and make strategy come alive… inspiring and motivating employees to action.

Tell the Story

Articulate a story that inspires and aligns employees within the organization around the vision.  The story explains where we’re going, why and how, and importantly – what employees can do to help achieve the vision.

Provide Tools

Next, the leader must provide managers and supervisors with tools so they can engage their employees in conversations about the vision and their role in achieving it.

When faced with the unknown, let your vision be your guide.

 

When It’s Time for a New Direction…

When It’s Time for a New Direction…

It takes courage to move your business in a new direction, and change can be difficult. Change is also an opportunity for great success — individually, as a team and as an organization. Here’s what else you need to change direction. For more information on communicating change, email me at tracy@on-the-same-page.com.

Change Communication - New Direction