Engaging & Retaining Staff – Part 3

12 Ways to Engage & Retain Staff, Image (c) People Insight

In the first blog in this series we looked at why employee engagement is so important and provided an overview of Gallup’s findings from its extensive research.  This was summarised in the 12 ways to engage employees.

In the second blog we examined the first 3 elements in further detail.  This included:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the right materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

In this blog we continue with the next 3 elements provided by Gallup:

4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.

So let’s look at each of these in turn.

Fourth Element – Recognition & Praise

What does it mean?

Great managers consistently give their direct reports prompt feedback and positive recognition, not just at the annual review when the feedback is often too little, too late and lacks context.  Recognition is not just about financial benefits, but includes on-going recognition and constructive feedback.

What is the evidence?

Employees are twice as likely to say they will leave their current company in the next year if they do not receive adequate recognition. Additionally, employees who report not receiving adequate recognition/feedback are more likely to feel as though they are underpaid.  Gallup research indicates companies are able to increase productivity and revenue when employees report receiving prompt feedback and positive recognition.

What should we do?

  1. Provide regular, appropriate and constructive feedback to your reports.  Make sure it is timely so that is relevant and applicable to the context of the situation for which the feedback is being provided.  Remember the effect of praise is short-lived – so look to provide it properly and appropriately every week.
  2. Don’t assume that your reports know that you appreciate their work – they can’t read your mind, so tell them!
  3. Remember people gravitate towards positive reinforcement and positive words.  You attract positive people and encourage them to be positive in turn creating a positive spiral effect.  This is especially true as, in the perception of employees generally, praise is painfully absent from most companies and the workgroups within them.
  4. Positive changes also happen to people who give the praise
  5. Provide objective examples with praise; make it clear why and for what it is being given to both the recipient and others.
  6. Find the forms of feedback that mean the most to each of your employees and use them – it makes the recognition and its positive effects more powerful.

Fifth Element – Someone at Work Cares About Me as a Person

What does it mean?

Great managers take an authentic and personal interest in the employees they manage, and their employees recognise it as such.

What is the evidence?

Companies can experience 22-to-37% higher turnover rates when employees believe their manager treats them as just a number.  Gallup research has continually showed a direct correlation between employees feeling as though they are not cared about and employee resignations.

When our emotions kick in the connection is personal, so people will treat each other differently when there is a personal connection. If people feel there is a lack of a personal connection, then the employer is seen as unfair and uncaring.  Staff are more motivated by the emotional need to support their colleagues, than the cognitive appeal of financial rewards.

What should we do?

  1. Limit giving orders and using authority as they have limits as to how well they works (this is especially true of new managers – see this article for more);
  2. Help your employees to engage with both you and their peers.
  3. Provide emotional support.  The greater this is, the greater the team work – with higher levels of trust, robust personal networks, vibrant communities, shared understandings and a sense of equitable participation.  This supports collaboration, communication, commitment, ready access to knowledge and talents, and coherent organisational behaviour – drawing individuals into a group.

Sixth Element – Someone at Work Encourages My Development

What does it mean?

It’s all about serving people well and respecting people for who they are. Great managers actively encourage the development of their direct reports, they look to help employees improve and grow beyond their existing roles and them as their manager.

What is the evidence?

Nearly 40% of employees – that is 2 in every 5 people! – believe that no-one in their company is encouraging their professional development. Plus, statistics indicate employees have an unwritten workplace expectation of having a mentor to help them in their development.  Gallup research indicates employee on-the-job engagement is higher when employees have someone in the company actively encouraging their development.

What should we do?

  1. Use mentors and coaches (internal or external) to help people develop the skills they need to maintain them in new roles, to help them develop the skills they need to get to the next level, whilst helping them achieve traction in their work and associated results.  NB: frequently managers need coaching support most, often they are promoted into a managerial role based on their technical capabilities which will not sustain them in their new role.  Rather, they need to develop the necessary managerial, business and leadership skills to enable them to perform – this, ironically, also helps to retain key managers who are often the ‘engine room’ of the business.
  2. Provide practical, relevant and timely guidance through personal interaction.
  3. Provide the necessary role models help people to see and discover how accomplishments are within reach.

Which of these 3 elements have you used and to what effect?  If you were to rank them which would you use first?  Would you use them with everyone, some of them or with no-one?

Share your ideas, and share the wealth.

In the next blog we look at the next three elements including:

7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

Until then share your thoughts and ideas here, and feel free to share this blog and articles with any colleagues, clients or friends you feel may find this of value.


Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Engaging & Retaining Staff – Part 2

12 Ways to Engage & Retain Staff

In our previous blog, we looked at why employee engagement is so important and provided an overview of Gallup’s findings from its extensive research.  This was summarised in the following 12 ways to engage employees.  In this blog we look in further detail at the first three ways.

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the right materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

Remember when you first started your current job.  The initial excitement, interest and challenges create a honeymoon period when you are highly engaged.  Like any relationship you cannot maintain the intensity of this, and after six months you begin to become disengaged.  How this happens varies for each of the 12 elements of engagement.  The Gallup Organisation found in Australia that after six months in a new job engagement drops by an average of 62%.  This makes our ability to retain and engage people a key concern, and our need to understand the 12 elements a priority.

In looking at each of these elements we look at three parts:

  1. What does each element mean?
  2. What is the evidence for this?
  3. What should we do to maintain high engagement for each element?

This helps us to identify where we may be weak, identify the priorities, and what actions to utilise from an a la carte menu of actions.

First Element – Knowing What is Expected at Work

What does it mean?

This is about establishing job clarity for your reports. To be a great manager you need to be able to effectively define and communicate what is expected of your direct reports.

What is the evidence?

At best, 50% of employees strongly agree they know exactly what is expected of them on the job – that means the other 50% do not.  The Gallup research indicated that when employees know what is expected of them, their productivity increases anywhere from 5-to-10% and there is a 10-to-20% reduction in on-the-job accidents occurs.

What should we do?

  1. Vision – make sure your employees know where you are going – be crystal clear and consistent in communicating what your vision for the business is.  This provides clarity of purpose for employees in what they do, and makes it easier for them to follow you. You don’t want “I’d like to follow you, but I don’t know where you are going”.
  2. Establish job clarity to combine individual efforts for the greatest cumulative result. This is more than a job description it includes for each employee:
  • Knowing what is expected;
  • Detailed understanding of their role and
  • How it fits in with what everyone else does

3. Focus on outcome-based rewards to ensure they are focused on achievement rather than ‘doing’.  Make sure that staff are not being incentivized to do routine things.

4. A good question to ask is: “I’d like you to introduce yourself, tell us your job, and how doing your job well increases the profits of your company?”. In doing this look at individual and group results, and understand how they drive the achievement of outcomes.

5. Communicate – wrap your conversations with employees around the key aspects of the business’ mission, this gives them insight into how what they do contributes to the bigger picture.

Second Element – Materials & Equipment                  

What does it mean?

A good manager ensures that their reports have the tools and resources they need to get the job done in expert fashion.

What is the evidence?

Only 33% of employees strongly agree they have been given the tools and resources to expertly get their job done – that means 67% have not.  Gallup research indicates employees are more productive and more engaged at work when they have the tools and resources to perform.

The importance of this is best illustrated by when employees do not have the materials and equipment they need to do their work, this increases their frustration and creates anger with the company for placing them in this situation.  In Australia, 71% of employers providing tools and resources such as career management programs say it has improved their ability to attract and retain employees.

What should we do?

  1. Ensure you not only have the right equipment and materials, but that you make regular small improvements in them, as well as modest changes to the process.  These have a multiplicative effect over time.
  2. Giving employees the right materials, equipment and process helps to reduce stress.  People want to do their jobs well, and to be productive – so help them be so.

Improvements in materials and equipment also include higher customer engagement and higher productivity.  The opportunity for effective and efficient feedback from staff on what can be done to improve things also helps to address this area and engage staff.

Third Element – The Opportunity to Do What I Do Best

What does it mean?

You need to be able to match the right person to the right job, or the right job to the right person.  Key questions to consider include:

  • Who would excel in this assignment?
  • What makes someone succeed where others fail?
  • Is it innate, is it learnt, or is it through effort?
  • Can excellence in a certain role be learned?
  • How fast and much can people change?
  • Can people be moulded to fit the needs of the role or not?

What is the evidence?

67% of employees failed to strongly agree they have been given the opportunity to perform their jobs to the best of their ability.  Gallup research indicates when businesses provide employees the opportunities to maximize their natural talents, employee engagement at work increases 33% resulting in significant gains in a company’s productivity.

What should we do?

  1. Don’t believe the notion about human potential that an employee can do anything if he puts his mind to it, can envision it, and tries hard enough or cares enough.  Not true.  (I may want to be a basketball player, but at 5’7″ “you can’t coach height”). Where there may be meaningful differences then remember these are not just opportunities to advance business interests, but also to improve staff’s careers.
  2. Talk with your employees in a positive, passionate way:
  • “So what are your gifts?”
  • “Where are you most happy?”
  • “Where do you think you could be utilised where your skills could be used best? Why?”

3. Establish where your people are in the “flow” – where the employee enjoys the work itself rather than enduring the work just to earn the pay, or to gain an opportunity to be promoted to a better, more fulfilling job.

4. Look at how you can mould the job for each employee around the way they work most naturally and to maximise the optimal experiences that provide “flow” and drive individual and team outcomes.

5. Managers of the best workgroups spend a disproportionate amount of time with their high producers, matching talents to tasks and emphasize individual strengths over seniority in making personnel decisions.

6. Regular staff reviews (every two to three months) on an one-to-one basis, these should include questions such as:

  • What do you do best?
  • What do you like about your job?
  • Where do you think you have greatest impact? etcetera

7. Creating an effective team is about taking the team’s collective abilities and utilizing them to achieve the results and outcomes, not how well individuals perform.

Which of these 3 elements have you used and to what effect?  If you were to rank them which would you use first?  Would you use them with everyone, some of them or with no-one?

Share your ideas, and share the wealth.

In the next blog we look at the next three elements including:

4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.

Until then share your thoughts and ideas here, and feel free to share this blog and articles with any colleagues, clients or friends you feel may find this of value.

Share the knowledge, share the wealth!


Engaging & Retaining Staff – Part 1

12 Ways


to Engage & Retain Staff, Image (c) People InsightEmployee engagement is becoming increasingly important as businesses compete for a dwindling skilled labour force as experienced baby-boomers retire and a smaller, relatively inexperienced workforce enters the market and progresses through the ranks.  The need to attract, develop and retain key staff is essential to develop and maintain your competitive advantage, as well as for the business to survive and thrive.

This blog, in 5 parts, is based on the book “The 12 Elements of Great Managing” which explains what every company needs to know about and creating and sustaining employee engagement.  This was based on a Gallup study of over 10 million employee and manager interviews

The key findings and the 12 elements for employee engagement that it uncovered include the following:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the right materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Why is Employee Engagement So Important

  • Productivity – engaged employees are more productive which, in turn, affects profitability.
  • Presence – engaged employees average 27% less abseentism than those who are actively disengaged.  Companies with many actively disengaged workers experience 51% more turnover than those with engaged employees, and have higher associated costs.
  • Lower employee replacement costs – typically these can be 25-80% for entry level positions, and for a specialist it can range from 75-400%.

These costs can be very expensive, as seen in the example below:

A company has 100 employees and is experiencing employee turnover of 10% i.e. 10 people a year leave the company.  If these are experienced staff, earning an average of $75,000 pa then this would cost the company from $562,000 to $3,000,000!  And this is all from the bottom line!

Over the next couple of weeks will look at each of the 12 elements in greater detail, looking at how we can take them and implement them effectively.

In the next installment of this series we will be looking at the first three elements:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the right materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

Which of these elements do you use?  What has worked or not worked for you?  What else have you successfully done that is not in this list?   Look forward to hearing your comments and experiences!

Share the knowledge, share the wealth!


Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

5 Strategies for Hard Times

5 Things to Do When Times Are Tough

When the business environment is becoming harder, here are 5 strategies to help you focus your effort, time, resources and investment.

tough times ahead Every few years the business cycle turns down and things get tough. For good business people, this is a sign to get going because with competitors struggling, it is a great time to build your business. There are two key areas you need to focus on, your survival and your growth. This paper outlines just five things you must do to make the best out of the general business downturn. Follow the suggestions made and you will not only survive, you will prosper.


Cash is the lifeblood of every business.  You need to get as much cash as you can into the business and protect it once you have it.

  • Where do you have cash stored? It may be with your customers who are slow in paying you. It may be in overheads that you don’t need. It may be in assets that you don’t really need to own.
  • If you had to get some money within 30 days, how much could you get in if you really put all your effort into it?
  • Look at the cash going out of your business. Can you stop spending in any areas?  Can you slow down the speed at which it goes out?


In most businesses that employ people you have a third of your staff that you are lucky to have, a third you would do be better without and the remaining third are somewhere in-between. In tough times you must protect your best people, the top two-thirds (maybe you need to get rid of the bottom third?).

  • How can you make sure you keep the ones you need?
  • Do they have contracts?
  • Do you reward them?
  • Do you tell them how much you appreciate their efforts?
  • Is working with you fun?


Keeping your best customers is much like keeping your best employees. Work out who the top two-thirds are and spend time on them.

  • Find out what problems they are having and what you can do to help them.
  • Keep in close contact with them on what you are doing for them.
  • Thank them for their business; ask if they can give more business.
  • Do they have any friends who they can refer you to?
  • Are you linking your best people with your best customers?
  • How can you help your customer increase their business?


Cash and profit are closely related. Around 20-30% of your operational expenses are due to waste in your business. You could remove that waste and the savings become instant profit (and probably cash).

  • Can you reduce your overheads? What about your people and material costs?
  • If by law you had to double your profit within three months what would you do? Why not just do it anyway?
  • Do you really know what profit you make each year? What about each month? What about each day?
  • Where do you make your profit? Did you know that 20% of your customers and 20% of your products (and services) generates 80% of your profit? Why not just focus on these customers and products for the next six months?


When you are energized your business is energized. You must develop and guard your energy levels.

  • Are you fit?
  • Do you love what you do?
  • Are the people you work with fun to be with or are they energy vampires?
  • Do you work too hard?
  • Do you make time for yourself?

Time management is the biggest thing to address in tough times. 20% of what you do generates 80% of the benefit you are to your business (and family) so what are you doing for the rest of the time? Maybe if you stop doing some of the low-value stuff, you will boost your energy levels.

Getting your business under control is critical in tough times. There is no point in growing a business that does not have good cash flow, profit or leadership. Get these five things largely right and your business will grow. Every leader and every business is different, so you need to decide where to start. All five strategies are equally important and the need for discipline and accountability for them lies with everyone – the responsibility is yours, it is up to you to make it happen.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

How to Recruit the Right People First Time

Cheerful Diverse Business People Standing in RowIn 2015 SouthWest Airlines received a job application every two seconds, but it was very selective. It received over 287,000 resumes from which it interviewed 102,112 candidates, and hired only 6,582 people. Why has SouthWest Airlines gone to such an extreme to recruit so few people, less than 2% of all applicants?

The key to the hiring process is to hire the people whose values mirror yours, and who will be engaged from day one. SouthWest Airlines don’t hire for skills, but for three attributes:

  • A warrior spirit – a desire to excel, act with courage, persevere and innovate
  • A servant’s heart – the ability to put others first, treat everyone with respect and proactively serve customers
  • A fun-loving attitude – passion, joy and an aversion to taking yourself too seriously.

And when they are hiring for these key attributes they are interviewing them using behavioral questions to determine whether the candidates already have and are living them. You do need skills, but it is the attributes that people have that will differentiate them. The on-going need for these attributes is reflected in SouthWest Airlines’ development and promotion practices, and especially for those who aspire to a leadership role.

This is good for the company, but how good is this for the employees? In a 2014 employee survey, when SouthWest Airlines staff were asked whether they felt like their job was “just a job,” “a stepping stone,” or “a calling,” nearly 75% selected, “a calling,” and 86% said they were proud to work for Southwest. So hiring for values seems to be working for both the company and the employees.

How are you hiring in your business? And what attributes are you looking for? Will you be as selective in your process? Do you want your employees to feel that what they do is not just a job, but “a calling”?

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Where Leaders of the Future Will Come From…

 by  Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions

Forecasts on where the future leaders will come from, and where they will not!The Ticking Timebomb for Talent

Are you worried about the lack of management and leadership talent in your business?  You should be.  There is an underlying shift in demographics that is driving this – and it isn’t going to go away.  The baby-boomers are beginning to retire in large numbers and this represents a major exodus of experience and talent.  This problem is being compounded by the influx of a smaller, less-experienced generation of workers, managers, and leaders.

How did we get into this mess?

Let’s be honest here, business has only looked at its available pool of talent only in the short-term.  A few forward-thinking companies may have looked at this issue over a slightly longer time the horizon, but they are few and far between.  The problem is that business is driven by short-term results, and this is at the expense of the long-term.  Leadership is increasingly short-term as a result and this is reflected in the average tenure of CEOs continuing to decline.

So where are we now with our leadership pipeline, and where will we be in the future?  What will this mean for our ability to recruit and retain the talent we need to survive and thrive both now and in the future?  The 2012 Global Leadership Survey from SHL provides a worldwide view of leadership potential spanning 25 countries.

The Findings

The countries which currently today have the most effective leaders are not those with the greatest leadership potential.

Developed Countries Decline, Developing Countries on the Rise

Notably, it is the developing countries that will have greatest leadership potential in the future, in part because they have the populations that are large and growing, and that many developed countries which will experience leadership shortages where the population growth is low.  This is summarized in the graphic below:

Why is this happening?

The main reason for this is the demographic shift that is occurring, with baby boomers beginning to retire and the next generation of the workforce (Gen Y) being significantly smaller in size and with less experience.  The implications as regards this for future effective leadership are:

  • For developing countries –rising education standards and a culture of entrepreneurialism are some of the environmental factors that are driving emerging economies.  They have a huge growth opportunity if they can identify, nurture and develop this potential.
  • For developed countries – although they have a strong supply of leaders today, they will be impacted if they continue to fail to invest in learning and development to cultivate their future supply of leaders and remain competitive.

What constitutes an effective leader?

An effective leader has many of the key leadership characteristics including:

  • The ability to build relationships
  • The ability to solve problems
  • The ability to communicate effectively
  • The ability to think laterally
  • The ability to influence
  • The ability to respond positively to change
  • The ability to organize
  • The ability to motivate and be motivated

Potential Leaders of tomorrow

Leaders of tomorrow are those individuals who exhibit some of the key leadership characteristics (outlined above) but require additional development to realize their full leadership potential.

Companies need to build their leadership talent pipeline and look outside their home markets for further talent. Understanding the supply of leadership is crucial for organizations.  As such, they need to develop and invest in their future leadership talent for the long-term in order to remain competitive in the global economy.

The Four Quadrants

Leadership Development 2b

Countries fall into four quadrants:

In The Talent Vacuum – countries with leadership gaps both today and in the future;

Talent Leapfroggers – countries in short supply of leaders today but have a huge pool of leadership potential in the future;

Talent Timebombs – countries with strong supplies of leaders today and gaps in leadership supplies in the future;

Talent Trailblazers – Countries with strong supplies today and in the future;

Depending on your geography you will fall into one of the four quadrants – the question is, given where you are, what are you going to do to address the long-term problems and implications in the now?

Five Steps to Cultivating Leadership Success

So what can you and your business do to build long-term success by building the necessary leadership skills and future pipeline?  There are 5 steps:

  1. Identify the behaviors and skills which make a successful leader in your organization;
  2. Have a complete overview of the leadership potential across your organization and don’t restrict that view to only those you think are high potential;
  3. Using data, benchmark your people against competitor talent and identify leadership shortages to avoid succession risk;
  4. Focus on development interventions including where to spend learning and development budgets and apply this across the business;
  5. Take a global view of where your leadership talent is located and be prepared to use creative strategies to source talent across borders to fill leadership gaps

What are you doing to develop and retain leadership and high-potentials in your organization?  Do you have a long-term view or are you driven by short-term requirements? Share your ideas, insights, and experiences here for others to benefit.

Share the knowledge, share the wealth!


Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Getting People to Meet Their Goals

“I never put off till tomorrow what I can do the day after.” – OSCAR WILDE

deadlinesHow often have you found yourself in a state of anxiety rapidly approaching a deadline or goal that needs to be achieved?  Most people have been in this state, some seem to live in this state on a perpetual basis.

There are two ways you can deal with a goal or deadline. You can start early and small, or late and big. ‘Early and small’ means you start at the earliest possible time with the minimum possible investment of time; ‘large and big’ occurs when you start at the last minute and invest a disproportionately large amount of efforts and resources – think of when you were at college and pulled an all-nighter to get an assignment in on time.

In research carried out by Dan Ariely, a leading behavioral economist, students who were starting a class, were told they would have to submit three papers over the twelve-week semester.  The deadlines for when these papers were due were to be determined by the individual students themselves, however, they had to be in before the end of the semester.  However, the students had to commit to their deadline for each paper and these could not be changed. Any deadline that was missed would be penalized at the rate of one percent off the grade for each day it was late.

Now a perfectly rational student would set all the deadlines for the last day of class. But what if the students procrastinated? What if they knew that they were likely to fail? If the students were not rational and knew it, then they might set early deadlines and by doing so force themselves to start working on the projects earlier in the semester.

The majority of students committed to earlier deadlines and the research found that this ability to commit resulted in higher grades.  More generally, it seems that simply providing students a tool by which they could pre-commit publicly to deadlines helped them achieve their goals.

So what does it mean for you if you are looking to achieve a goal or meet a deadline?

There are two things you can do:

1. Make a public commitment as to when you will achieve the goal or meet the deadline before it is due.

2. Make a start now – take your goal or deadline and ask yourself “What is the minimal amount I could do right now to prepare?” Whatever your goal or deadline start now, just spend five minutes and put down your ideas.  This will help you to get ahead and to meet your goals and deadlines.

Try this for yourself and share it with your colleagues and team.  Just doing something small can help you realize goals and meet deadlines without having to resort to being rushed.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

4 Steps to Build Your Career Effectively

Tips on planning your future career

Successful executives are not just successful because they do a good job, but because they look to build their own career. This does not happen but by chance, but with forwarding planning. As such business executives can learn useful lessons from those engaged in politics.

This is not to say that those who have successful careers are Machiavellian by nature – manipulating or using others will only hurt you in the long run – but rather that they take the time to build authentic relationships, improve your work skills, and provide real value to others. Being successful at office politics does not mean that you have to compromise your integrity. The best politicians model good career development behaviors in that they:

  1. Set clear goals
  2. Reach out to supporters
  3. Build and exercise influence, and then
  4. Execute relentlessly to achieve their ambitions.

In short, you need to devise a campaign plan for your career.

You may be busy in your day-to-day work, however, if you ignore developing your career then this is at your own peril. By their very nature organizations are inherently political entities, and anyone who ignores those dynamics becomes subject to the vagaries of others. If you want to be successful you need to identify what you want to achieve and develop a plan for getting there.

Your Future Resume

This is a useful way of helping you identify what you need to achieve in order to realize your long-term goals. Determine where you want to be in the next 5 to 10 years. Be clear and specific. Now, for that position, rewrite your resume for those positions five or 10 years out. Ask yourself these types of questions:

  • What education will I have obtained?
  • What experience will I need to reach these positions and roles?
  • What committees and/or organizations will I have belonged to?
  • What will my interests be?
  • What am I doing my spare time?
  • Who will I have met and known who has helped me to reach this position?
  • Who will I need to know or meet who can help me develop the necessary skills contacts and relationships for my next position or role?

Answering these questions helps you to get some clarity around what the focal point is around which you need to focus your efforts. Look at the people who are good role models for what you are looking to achieve. This will allow you to gain a broader and more inclusive perspective on the longer-term strategies you need to develop, rather than just looking at the short-term tactics you might use.

STEP 1: Setting Key Goals

Key Steps in Developing Your Career Campaign Plan

  1. Identify your goal–what do you want to achieve and by when? Be specific. You can periodically update your plan – or create a new, rewritten résumé – to match your changing goals.
  2. Focusing on your end goal, write down the dates that you consider crucial. For example, these might include annual performance reviews, project completion dates, application deadlines or other target dates. Beginning with the end in mind work back from the end goal date to where you are today. This will help you identify what you need to do today is aligned with helping you achieve what you want in the longer term
  3. Take Stock of Yourself.Three simple steps you take include:
    • Identify the skills acquired by others who have reached your goal.In order to grow and develop you will need to change. You need to be clear on the skills capabilities, capacity, and experiences that you will need as well having the resilience and underlying attitude to help you succeed. This can be difficult to ascertain. So ask people, especially those who you aspire to be, about their experiences and how they moved up the ladder. Take what you can learn from them and see what you can apply that is most useful and relevant.
    • Determine what skills you can learn on your own. For the rest, figure out how long formal study will take.Build time into your schedule for the skills you want, cultivate. If you don’t make the time, to begin with then you will never have the time to grow how you need to and you become frustrated and disappointed.
    • Chart your skills development plan on your campaign calendar.Make it visible and plan it out. Print off monthly calendars for the duration of your planned career campaign so you can see what you have to do, by when, and how you are progressing.

STEP 2: Reach out to Supporters

Direct Power – know who you need to know

A lot of your success will come through your relationships with others. You need to ask yourself:

  • “Who are the people who have the greatest power and influence over where I want to go and what I want to do?”
  • “Who do I need to know and meet with and why?”
  • “What do I want them to feel, think and say about me? From this what do I want them to do?”
  • “How can I help them and be of use to them?” (it is a two-way street after all)

STEP 3: Build and Exercise Influence

Key People – Draw up a Power-Map

This is a simple tool that allows you to map out your key relationships (or lack of) with the key people you need to influence. Draw a map, with you at the center, and how you are linked to them (directly or indirectly), and who you need to go through to reach other people. Colour-code them: green for your allies, yellow for people you know slightly, and red for people you don’t know. From this, you can identify who and where you need to develop relationships, who needs to know you that doesn’t know you, and who knows you who can help you.

Indirect Influencewho are the people who although they lack formal power or authority are influential. For example, whose opinion does your boss value? Knowing this can help you to use the right messenger in persuading the key person with the power and formal authority.

Key Groups – think about which groups will help you connect with the people you want to meet—potential clients, higher-ups at your company, industry thought leaders—and eschew commitments that waste your time or yield minimal returns.

Here are some concrete steps for pinpointing who can help you in your career campaign:

  • Draw a power map, using circles that show who has the most influence over your career—and, in turn, the people who have the most influence over them.
  • Figure out what you can offer the influential people—expertise, assistance on a project, help with networking—and ways to cultivate unique knowledge or skills they’d find valuable.
  • Make a list of the groups you should join because they hold sway or will allow you to meet key contacts.

STEP 4: Executing

In putting your strategies and actions into practice with the people you need to target you know need to build and maintain a relationship with them. Establish quarterly progress goals for yourself.  Think about what you are doing that is relevant for them to spend 15 minutes with you.  Make sure you are highly visible, especially when meeting with prominent people – it will help to make you more interesting and attractive to others, this makes it easier to meet with them. Try and create an “echo” for your name – make sure everyone hears your name everywhere whether it be articles, blogs, social media, presentations, reports, conferences etc.  Key in doing this is to build the relationship first so that when you need their help later then they will be willing and know how to help you best.

Bring It All Together

Now you know what you are looking to do, with whom, how and by when – and with a clear outcome in mind – you need to bring it all together. Condense it into a clear plan with all the elements, the dates, and actions. Review it regularly and adapt it to you and/or your environment change.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.


What To Do When People Are Not Being Held Accountable

A recent survey quoted in an article in the Harvard Business Review Blog highlighted that the single most avoided responsibility was holding people accountable.  In the survey of more than 5,400 upper-level managers from the US, Europe, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific gathered since 2010, 46% are rated “too little” on the item, “Holds people accountable — firm when they don’t deliver.  This result is consistent at all levels of management, and across all countries.

Why Is This?

There are a number of contributory reasons that I see for this, these include:

Lack of a Suitable Role Model – if accountability is not being enforced from the top, then how can the organization expect managers and leaders below to do so.

Fear of Being Unpopular – holding people accountable is a confrontational role and one which many people shy away from.  As such, regardless of the fact that you are acting within your rights and quite properly, there is a personal price you pay in terms of being seen by others in a negative light.

Circle of Avoidance – I have seen many companies keep people on who are well beyond their “use by” date.  What often happens is that a decision is made to deal with the non-performing individual in a non-accountable way to avoid confrontation.  This provides a precedent and makes it easier to repeat the decision when the problem re-occurs.

Dealing with the Symptom Not the Root Cause – often managers will deal with the problem at a superficial level.  Not wanting to probe further or ask “why” means that the problem is not properly addressed and continues to raise its ugly head again and again. This can develop into acceptance of the on-going situation as people get “injured” to it.

Being Held Accountable Without Consequences – for me, this is a major contributory factor.  Often when people are held accountable there is a distinct lack of accompanying consequences that are properly enforced.  This means that the system of being held accountable lacks discipline and backbone, undermining the whole process.

The Ringelmann Effect – here the decrease in average individual performance with increases in group size. It was named after a German psychologist, Ringelmann who studied groups pulling on a rope. He found that the average force for two persons was 93% of average individual force; the average force for three persons 85% of average individual force, and the average force for eight persons was only 49% of the average individual force essence individuals exert less effort when their efforts are combined than when they are considered individually.  This masks the lack of effort, and often group dynamics can mean that the group would rather “carry” the non-performing individual than making them accountable.

So What Can We Do?

At its essence, this is about changing people’s behavior which in turn drives your organization’s culture.

If you are working in an organization where accountability is weak then you have to bite the bullet and enforce it in a consistent and sustained fashion.  It will cause unrest, loss of popularity and even loss of staff – but if you don’t like that then you shouldn’t be in a leadership role.  You need to address the motivation for this, as well as ensuring that the relevant capabilities are in place.  We need to set the standards – establish, communicate them, and reinforce them by providing the necessary capabilities and tools so people can action the changes required.

Using Influence

The only way we can enable people to change their behaviors is to use our influence.  Influence is often thought of in a personal context, but there are other sources.  There are six sources of influence available to us, this shown below.

Source 1: Personal Motivation — work on connecting vital behaviors to intrinsic motives.

Source 2: Personal Ability — coach the specifics of each behavior through deliberate practice.

Source 3: Social Motivation — draw on the enormous power of social influence to both motivate and enable the target behaviors.

Source 4: Social Ability — people in a community will have to assist each other if they hope to succeed.

Source 5: Structural Motivation — attach appropriate reward structures to motivate people to pick up the vital behaviors.

Source 6: Structural Ability — ensure that systems, processes, reporting structures, visual cues and so forth support the vital behaviors.

Although organizations often look at trying to motivate people when influencing they tend to focus predominantly on sources 1 and 5 and developing the abilities to support the change are largely ignored or treated as a post-change aspect – rather than being integral to effecting the change successfully.

Overview of the Six Sources of Influence

So what do these influences mean if you are involved in creating a culture of accountability?  Let’s look at them in a little more detail.

1.  Make the Undesirable Desirable – if you can’t find a way to change a person’s intrinsic response to a behaviour—if you can’t make the right behaviors pleasurable and the wrong behaviors painful – you’ll have to make up for the motivational shortfall by relying on external incentives or possibly even punishments.

2.  Personal Ability– we often limit our success when we assume that any influence failure is exclusively a motivational problem.  This fundamental attribution error assumes that when people don’t change it is simply because they don’t want to change.  In doing this, we lose an enormous lever for change. Even when we realize people may lack the ability required to enact a vital behavior, we often underestimate the need to learn and actually practice that behavior.

3.  Harness Peer Pressure – when seeking influence tools that have an impact on profound and persistent problems, no resource is more powerful and accessible than the persuasion of the people who make up our social networks. The ridicule and praise, acceptance and rejection, approval and disapproval of our fellow beings can do more to assist or destroy our change efforts than almost any other source.

4.  Find Strength in Numbers – this is creating leverage and synergies by enabling different people, teams, departments and divisions to share their knowledge, insights, and experience in meeting dealing with, and achieving the necessary changes.

5.  Design Rewards & Demand Accountability – making use of extrinsic rewards can be complicated. Not every reward has its desired effect. Sometimes they can backfire and be counter-productive.  Accountability has to be clearly allocated and, to be effective, needs to be reinforced with consequences as appropriate.  Rewards need to focus on behaviors, not just results.  If rewards are mismanaged, they can be divisive and if accountability is not maintained then its absence can send out negative signals.

6. Change the Environment – this examines the nonhuman aspects, such as buildings, space, sound, sight etcetera can be brought to bear in an influence strategy.  For example, co-locating new teams, departments or key individuals; creating new corporate identities; how the environment can be used to highlight visible, timely and accurate information that supports their goals.

Utilizing a mix of these six sources of influence provides you with the opportunity to direct, engage and enable your staff to expect, for both themselves and others, accountability.

What will you do? What works for you?  Share your ideas, insights, and comments here!

Share the knowledge, share the wealth!


Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

5 Steps for Effectively Delegating & Managing Work

A 5-step process by which to effectively delegate and manage delegated work.

DelegateDelegating effectively allows managers and leaders to free up time; ensure the work is down to the right person at the right level and on-time; helps to develop people and their capabilities, and allows the managers and leaders to focus on what is important – not just what is urgent.

Creating the Conditions & Capabilities for Delegation

For effective delegation you need to have:

  1. A culture which supports and allows delegation to occur
  2. The desire and the ability to delegate
  3. People with the necessary abilities and attitudes that you can delegate to.

If you lack any one of these it makes delegation difficult.  As such be clear as to where you are on these factors and what you need to do to address them if necessary.  Yet even if these conditions are in place many managers and leaders find it difficult to delegate.  Common reasons for this include:

  • Short-term thinking – it would be quicker to do it myself
  • Perfectionist thinking – I can do it better myself
  • Requires an investment in training/mentoring of others – I don’t have anyone I can trust to delegate it to
  • I don’t know how to delegate

The key to enabling others to delegate is to understand what delegation entails.   I define delegation as:

A task, for which a nominated individual(s) is given specific responsibility, to complete in part or full, by a given time to produce an expected outcome or result, and for which you will receive feedback on.

The 5 Step Delegation Process

  1. Identify the Task – be clear on what the actual task is that you are asking someone to complete.  In doing this put a clear frame around it – what does it include and what does it exclude.  Providing a clear description and understanding of this is critical.
  2. Nominate the Individual(s) – Identify the person(s) who will be involved in the completion of the task.  Be clear as to why you want them to do it (is it for personal development reasons, part of what they need to be able to do to gain promotion etcetera?), and make sure they understand this.

    Delegation Process
    The 5-Step Delegation Process
  3. Define the Responsibility – when discussing it with the nominee(s) ask them to summarize what they have understood that you want them to do – this will quickly highlight any discrepancies or misunderstandings before they can become problematic.  Check that they are prepared for this responsibility and are committed to completing it within the scope and timeframes that you have determined.  You also need them to be clear on your expectations as regards their completing this task and the associated results and outcomes.
  4. Completion – do you want them to complete the task in full, or only in part, before they report back to you on progress made.  If it is an area in which they have little experience, or you have a low level of trust in their ability to do so, then get them to complete the first part before reporting back to you.  This gives you a checkpoint to ascertain how they are progressing, what further guidance is necessary, and if they can be left to their own devices to complete the task.
  5. Review – establish regular times for reviewing their progress.  If you are uncertain of their capabilities then you may have multiple review points during the work on the task, or you may ask them to report back once it has been completed if you have high confidence in them.  Reviews should be short and you must ensure that the responsibility for the work stays with the nominee(s), otherwise you will find the work delegated back to you!

By breaking the delegation process into these 5 simple steps it makes it easier for you to delegate, for those delegated to understand what they need to do and what is expected of them, and for the work to be done in a controlled manner which allows people to grow and develop without being micro-managed.  Use this with your people and see how much time and effort you free up for yourself, and how your people work more effectively.

We look further at delegation in the following article, How To Manage Those Delegated To.


Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.