Friday, April 22, 2011

Who’s in Charge of Engagement?

We coach leaders. We also facilitate numerous workshops on leadership. Often I find that we quote the data from countless surveys regarding leadership and its impact on employees and therefore the corporate bottom line. One glaring stat that has stood the test of survey time is that the number one reason that employees leave their employer to go to another organization is their immediate boss. As our client organizations ask us to conduct exit interviews we see exiting employees finally share the truth for why they chose to leave. Overwhelmingly we hear them say, “My boss sucked.” We can debate who is responsible for motivating and engaging employees and the research points to the leaders in the organization.
In a survey produced in March 2011 by Psychometrics Canada, their conclusion was that “if employees aren’t motivated, it’s poor management that is to blame.” The poll of 368 human resources managers at Canadian companies found:
• 69% consider low employee engagement a major issue in their organization,
• 82% per cent said that they feel their management should be doing more to address employee engagement.
Shawn Bakker, who conducted the survey said, “The thing that really stood out is they overwhelmingly pointed the blame on management. They said it wasn’t so much the employees who are lacking motivation, but that their direct managers or senior management are not creating conditions that make employees feel engaged.”
The survey continued on to show that executives are failing in four key areas:
• 71% said managers should listen more to employees’ opinions,
• 68% said they fail to communicate clear expectations,
• 58% said they need to give more recognition and praise and,
• 57% said they need to provide more learning and development opportunities.
So, if you continually wonder what it takes to attract and retain a talented, engaged and motivated workforce, look to your leaders. Are they doing the job? My belief is that leaders who see the role of leadership as a job or occupation versus a calling to noble work will be the leaders that contribute to the statistics of disengaged employees. Which leader are you?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Accepting Acknowledgement

I facilitate leadership and coaching workshops all over the world. I find it rewarding and exhilarating to see participants learn and grow in our workshops. As well, the depth of growth that shows up with our one on one coaching clients is in its own way – more deeply fulfilling.  In either circumstance I often tell a story that relates to acknowledgment. I fully believe there are two types in the world when it comes to recognition and acknowledgement; those who say they like it and liars. Now, as a very experienced and successful executive coach many would expect that I do an effective job of practicing what I preach. And, I am like the proverbial plumber with leaky pipes at home. I have much of my own work to do as I experienced again this week.
I had another one of those annual events that occur every year; called a birthday, happen this week. At my age I don’t see it as pivotal as it may have been when I was a younger man yet this year it had some distinctive significance. It happened to fall during the time of my annual executive coach mastermind group retreat. This is a group of very experienced executive coaches and we have been together for over seven years now. We hold our annual retreat to dive deep into our work, our purpose and how we support each other in the work we each bring to the world. These retreats are always a very energizing and enlightening, and maybe challenging experience. With my birthday falling during this event my friends decided to host a little birthday celebration for me. They called it Bob Fest.
I would consider myself to be a confident man with the occasional bouts of self-admiration and believe I have something significant to offer the world. And any attention that is bestowed on me is usually meet with my own version of modesty. I am uncomfortable being any form of center of attention. In this case, the attention paid on me was huge, humbling, deeply treasured and very appreciated.
This celebration brought out the typical flood of thoughts I have related to almost anything and specifically in this case, how we are generally pretty bad at sitting in the genuine praise and acknowledgement that may be bestowed upon us by others. All of my dear friends had very good things to say about me and shared wonderful stories of how our relationship has had great significance for them. As each one shared their stories I became both more shy and humbled while at the same time craving more! One of our teammates could not make this retreat due to health issues. Angela did send a note to be read at my celebration so it became the one acknowledgement that I was able to keep for prosperity (thank you Angela). Her words are shared here as I do my own work to learn more about accepting our own brilliance:
“What I Love About You Bob
There are many things I love about you, Bob. So it’s challenging to pick the one thing that I love ‘most”. That’s like having to choose a favorite snack or a best friend... How do you pick just one?  OK... So, probably your most impressive and notable characteristic is your consistently warm and engaging presence. You embody ‘unconditional positive regard’ at least as well as Carl Rodgers ever did. It’s in your posture, your language, your gaze, and your questions. I love the consistency and integrity in that – all of those avenues of expression exude the same warmth and engaged presence. It’s even evident in the chuckle/sigh thing you do when someone else makes a particularly poignant self-disclosure. Happy Birthday Bob. Angela”
There it is. I have publically shared something very nice someone else has said about me! It’s almost therapeutic to do so. I believe I fall into a group called ‘the majority’ when it comes to falling short of accepting our own brilliance. I realize in doing so that I also fall short in what I could do in and for the world. I know I have done some great stuff in the world and there is much more to do. I will continue to work on acknowledging others and acknowledging myself.
Most importantly, for those of you that have relationships with others (can’t think of anyone that doesn’t), step it up. Acknowledge the brilliance you see in others. Contribute to their development. If you are a leader, this is not a suggestion for you to contemplate. You must do it. If not, you are a leader as anointed by position only.  Leadership is a noble right – treat it as such.