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Tag Archives: empowering people

Employee engagement comes when you actively seek input from all levels of the organization

Jeffrey SharpeJeffrey Sharpe is a Project Manager at one of my client organizations and someone that I’ve had the privilege of working with for several months.  He is not only very good at what he does, but also a thoughtful and intentional leader, constantly seeking positive and productive ways to get more accomplished through others.  When I asked him if he would contribute a guest post here on Turning Managers Into Leaders blog, I wasn’t sure that he would agree.  But he did!  His post below gives first-hand practical advice on how to build employee engagement, both now and for the long haul.

The Importance of Engaging with Workers at All Levels of an Organization

Have you ever wondered what your workers really think of your company? How they would improve it? What they would do differently? Have you ever wondered what your senior management is planning and how it could affect your career?

The answers to these questions are within reach, but only if you are engaging your workers and customers to solicit this information. You could ask them nicely, or demand they tell you. But either way, it’s difficult to seek the truth without each party sacrificing something in return.

When I was young, my father worked at a shipyard as a welder. He would tell me stories about co-workers that were frustrating to work with, bosses who had no clue what was going on with their own front line, and “The Engineer”, a fellow so out of touch with how things operated in the real world and at the job site, it would make your head spin. Naturally, after graduating as a Civil Engineer, I was given a speech that ended with “Don’t let that Iron Ring on your finger cut the blood off to your brain”.   Now I could have taken offense to this message, or I could choose to learn from it. Continue reading

Improve your coaching skills by asking this one simple question

coachingBack in 2012, I posed this question on the blog: When your employee comes to you with a problem, do you tell or do you ask?  My point was that so many leaders have the tendency to “solve” our employees’ issues rather than coaching our employees to resolve the problems themselves.  Over the years, I have discovered one very simple, yet powerful, phrase can make the difference.  Ask: What do you think?

A powerful coaching moment

When an employee comes to you with an issue, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to provide an answer.  Instead, use the opportunity to create a very powerful coaching moment.  The chances are high that your employee already has a very good idea as to what the solution should be, and only really wants to discuss it with you and get your concurrence.  When you ask “What do you think?”, you are opening the door for a dialogue that not only will lead to a solution, but will also build your employee’s self-confidence as well as enhance problem-solving skills.  Continue reading

Why you shouldn’t fall prey to “reverse delegation”

ReverseDelegationAbout a year ago, I wrote a column for Profit MagazineHow to Stop Doing Employees’ Work For Them – about how not to fall into the classic leadership trap known as “reverse delegation”, which is the natural tendency that many leaders have to “help” a struggling employee by taking back a task that’s been assigned to him/her.

Reverse delegation occurs far more often than you might realize (or that you are willing to admit), and usually strikes when you fall into the mindset of “It will be faster and easier to just do this myself.”  But it’s not good leadership … for two reasons.  First, reverse delegation doesn’t permit you to build skills and confidence in your people (a very important job for leaders), and two (and perhaps even more importantly), it simply causes your personal workload to escalate.  Continue reading

Why CEOs should not take a vacation

My latest Leadership Lab column for The Globe & Mail is up in cyberspace!

Why CEOs should not take a vacation

Executive coaches often encourage CEOs in growing organizations to work “on” their business instead of “in” their business. So far, that’s pretty good counsel, and I don’t disagree. It’s the frequent follow-up conversation that gets me all twisted up though! Advice such as “You should be able to go on a two-week vacation and never have to check back into the office; the mental break will allow you to return refreshed, ready to take your company to even greater heights” or “Your time is better spent networking at the golf course or at industry events because that is where you’ll discover new business opportunities and further build existing relationships” may sound textbook-perfect, but quite frankly it’s idiotic and a sure-fire recipe for failure. I explain further on The Globe‘s site.

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Well, what you think? Are all those executive coaches right after all, or do you agree with my contrarian point of view? Please share your views directly on The Globe‘s site so that your insights are available to their significant readership. Or if you wish to comment in a more targeted way, drop me an email or send me a tweet (@mergespeaks). And please … do tell me if you speak as a CEO, an executive coach, or from another perspective.

And one last thing — do me one HUGE favour – help me get the word out … share the link with your staff and colleagues (easiest directly from The Globe‘s site using the share icon at the very top of the article). My objective is always to get the dialogue started so the more people who join in the conversation, the more I’ve succeeded in achieving my goal.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Here is a direct link to the article in case you need to cut and paste it elsewhere: http://tgam.ca/EMtM

Overcoming reverse delegation

My latest contribution as a member of ProfitGuide.com’s panel of business experts launched into cyberspace this morning. Frequent readers of the blog will recall that since May, I have been writing regular columns for the online version of Profit Magazine. And in case you didn’t know, Profit Magazine is a sister publication to Canadian business magazine giants Canadian Business, MoneySense and Macleans, so I’m pretty chuffed to be in such esteemed company. Today’s column is titled:

How to Stop Doing Your Employees’ Work For Them

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It spells out how to avoid falling victim to the classic leadership trap known as “reverse delegation”, the natural tendency to offer assistance by taking back a task you’ve assigned to someone else.

Reverse delegation occurs far more often than leaders realize (or that they are willing to admit). But if you are committed to not allowing your personal workload to escalate AND to building skills and confidence in your people, then it is critical that you know how to respectfully and effectively push back when it occurs.

Take a read-through please (How to Stop Doing Your Employees’ Work For Them) and then come on back to the blog and share your thoughts. Have you fallen victim to this classic leadership trap? If not, what has been your approach to avoid reverse delegation? Please share so that we can all learn from one another.

Why new hires can be a huge advantage to your team

I was working with a group of supervisors and managers recently and one of them said something that caught my attention, only because it’s something I don’t hear very often. She said “I just love it when a new employee joins my team!” Usually, new hires (whether recent graduates or experienced hires from another organization) are viewed as an inconvenience – just another person to train and bring up to speed – but this manager’s enthusiasm about bringing a new employee on board made me pause and ask “Why?” Her answer, just as enlightening. Continue reading

Insist that your employees be problem solvers, not problem identifiers

ProblemSolvingSome employees are serial “problem identifiers” – they’re very good at telling you what’s wrong. Whether they’re talking about a process, a person, another department, or even their own jobs, they’re adept at pinpointing and vocalizing what is amiss. But then the unspoken assumption is that it’s your job (because you’re the boss) to fix it. And unfortunately, many managers and supervisors blindly stumble into this trap (see Why do managers have a tendency to do rather than coach? and Do you tell or do you ask?). Don’t. Make it a point to insist that your employees bring you solutions, not problems.

Require that your people become “problem solvers” instead of “problem identifiers”. Continue reading

Giving credit fairly in a collaborative work environment

One thing I hear often from both leaders and employees is how de-motivating it can be when credit (for an innovative idea, a successful project outcome, or just a job well done) is not given fairly. Invariably, as more and more work is done collaboratively in organizations, it’s hard to assign credit to a single individual; yet so many organizations still have systems that acknowledge and reward individual effort and success. I am often asked how to overcome this apparent contradiction – is giving credit in a collaborative work environment possible without causing friction and tension? The short answer is “yes”. While certainly not easy, here is one proven idea: tie individual recognition to group performance. When you link how you recognize an individual’s performance to how well his/her team overall has done, you are less likely to cause conflict within the team over unfair credit, and more likely to promote teamwork and collaboration towards better results. I have seen this work first-hand repeatedly in client organizations, but to prove my point, let me give you a much more publicly-known example. Continue reading

Unable to delegate effectively? You may be the reason.

Liz-WeberLiz Weber is not only a respected business colleague and a friend, but also an in-demand coach and consultant to executive teams who need help with strategic planning, succession planning, and leadership team development.  And of course, I’m thrilled to bits that she agreed to guest on the blog today.

Are You Too Busy Being Busy?

Do you work 10, 11, or 12 hour days and never get ahead?  Do you believe the more tasks you physically do yourself, the greater your chances are you can inspire your team to do more? When that doesn’t work, do you ask yourself why no one seems to be working as hard or caring as much as you? If so, a primary reason for your frustration may be your own management style. You may be too busy being busy to effectively manage.

If you are jumping in and taking on team work or scurrying from task to task, often shifting direction, your behavior (i.e., your management style) is sending an off-putting message to others. The message you are conveying is that you are scattered and indecisive at best, or out-of-control at worst.  Most team members will recognize the message right away—and they will stay away. Continue reading

Who are you ignoring? (or why it’s so important to acknowledge everyone around you)

BollywoodMovieLast month I experienced a Bollywood movie in an Indian movie theatre. For those unversed in such amusements, Bollywood movies are legendary for their melodramatic storylines and catchy song-and-dance numbers, and wildly popular amongst the locals.  The movie itself was an exhilarating feast for the senses, but the event I really remember occurred even before I entered the theatre.

Because of terrorist threats in recent years, you are required to endure airport-like security before you can enter a movie house in India.  You place your handbag on the x-ray belt, walk through a metal detector, and then you’re patted down by a security guard before you can get to the popcorn and candy counter.  As I walked up to the security guard for my pat-down, I wished her good evening and asked her how she was. Continue reading