By Vicky Smith
When computers and machines break down, they are fixed using systematic problem-solving skills.
It seems logical that using the same deductive approach with people would maximize human productivity.
Many a manager is frustrated when a rational approach causes disruption or morale issues instead of solving the problem.
They then try to motivate employees to achieve desired results but become exasperated when the burst of positive short-lived activity fizzles out.
Most managers spend a minimum of 60% of their time solving people-related issues that should never have reached their attention.
Leading writers on leadership have dropped the responsibility of motivating from a manager's job description.
Managers cannot motivate because motivation comes from within. What they can do is enable employees.
Max DePree, author of Leadership is an Art, defines enabling as liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective way possible.
"In short, the true leader enables his or her followers to realize their full potential," DePree writes.
Ed Oakley, Karen Saunders and Doug Krug, authors of Enlightened Leadership, write about enabling as "leaders creating an environment that supports enhancing the self-image of our people."
"As people truly feel better about themselves, their attitudes naturally change for the benefit of all."
Does this sound like your employees talking about you?
"He took a risk in leaving me to manage the new project. We play an equal part in making decisions."
"She delegates things she doesn't have to. She involves you in the decisions that affect you, even if only remotely."
"We teach him some things, too. He learns from us. He believes in reverse coaching."
"There is no misunderstanding what she means. She gives you a pat on the back for good results as well as giving you bad news. She welded us into a team."
If these comments don't apply to your management style, then you should incorporate training on coaching skills into your performance development plan.
Delegating responsibly, a participatory decision-making style, a commitment to a team, active listening skills and clearly communicating information are learned skills and requirements for effective leadership.
Workforce Management Magazine published an article on measuring employee engagement. Results from a survey show a strong correlation between high scores and superior job performance.
A good tool to understand the extent of employee engagement is conducting employee satisfaction surveys. They provide a snapshot of your organization's health.
Good times to consider doing surveys are:
When there is rapid organizational growth;
When there are high employee turnover or absenteeism rates;
During a change in performance management programs;
While changes are contemplated to compensation or benefits;
When the organizational rumour mill is alive with negative communication.
The following statistics from an article titled "Why Issue Surveys" demonstrate how employee engagement ties into organizational profitability.
A Mercer study concluded the average expense of replacing a worker today is $30,000.
It can cost as much as $10,000 to hire a new manufacturing employee.
To fill a vacant corporate executive position, it could cost as much as the executive's salary.
John Meyer, an expert in workplace behaviour and employee attitudes, is a professor and chairperson of the industrial and organizational psychology program at the University of Western Ontario. He is also director of the research unit for work and productivity in the department of psychology.
His research focuses on how organizations can become resilient by enhancing employee commitment.
"It is important to first understand what commitment is, how it develops, and how it relates to organizational effectiveness and employee well-being," Meyer says.
"The question many organizations are struggling with is how to 'bind' or retain good people under conditions of constant change."
Supervisors and managers play a pivotal role in maintaining effectiveness and employee well-being.
Mastering these skills will improve employee commitment, reduce turnover and increase profitability.
Coaching involves spending time with people on the job each day, discussing game strategies and providing feedback about their efforts and performance.
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