Mind Reading For Managers, Part 1 – August 25, 2014


Did you know that only a fraction of your staff brings their “A” game to work every day? This number is about one in five, according to companies like Aon Hewitt and the Gallup Organization. The rest? At best they are bringing their “B” or “C” games to work—at worst, their main goal is to keep from getting fired. Promotional Consultant Today takes a close look at this employee engagement crisis.

Getting into the minds of your employees to glean the information needed to increase not only engagement but productivity in your workforce can be as simple as conducting the following five FOCUSed conversations that we’ll share today and tomorrow.

Conversation 1: Feedback

There are two types of feedback that fall under this conversation. First, give praise where praise is due. Studies have shown that a vast majority of employees do not feel appreciated enough for the job they do. Praise, it seems, is a scarce commodity in the workplace. So if your staff is doing a good job, be sure to let them know.

Conversely, one of the key factors in employee engagement is the ability to have your say. Be receptive to your staff’s feedback. Who knows, they may just come up with a brilliant idea that makes a huge difference for the team or company.

Conversation 2: Objectives

Most performance issues stem from a disconnect between what the manager perceives as meeting objectives and what the staff member perceives as meeting them. To drastically reduce performance issues, managers must both clearly define and articulate expectations. Yet few do.

Your employees need to know what they must do to be successful in their jobs, and how that success will be measured. And you need to have a clearly defined yardstick by which to objectively measure performance. Aligning their expectations with yours will result in less frustration and anxiety on both sides.

Conversation 3: Career Development

Many studies list career development within the top three factors that employees gauge to determine whether to stay with their current employer or look for another job. Yet, many managers avoid this topic like the plague for one of three reasons:

  • They don’t understand how to manage their own careers
  • They are afraid that if they help their staff manage their careers better, staff members will surpass them on the corporate ladder
  • They are afraid to talk about career development because they don’t feel they can meet the employee’s expectations. This is especially true in smaller companies or niche functions where not a lot of vertical career opportunity is available.

Helping employees manage their careers makes good business sense. Ensuring that they understand what opportunities exist within your company (something they may not recognize without your help) will inhibit them looking outside of it.

Find out what your employees’ priorities are and have open, honest conversations around how your company can help them achieve them—even with the constraints you may have. Suggest and recommend internal opportunities to learn, grow and develop and they will at least delay—if not avoid—looking for external opportunities.

Read PCT tomorrow for more “FOCUSed” conversations that will help you to engage with your employees.

Source: Kim Seeling Smith is an international human resources expert and author of the newly released book, Mind Reading for Managers: 5 FOCUSed Conversations for Greater Employee Engagement and Productivity. With her expansive knowledge of human capital practices in today’s market, Smith helps companies build healthy work environments and increase employee engagement and productivity in our digitally connected, globally oriented world.

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