How to Hire for Attitude, Not Just Aptitude

How attitude is a good predictor of prospective employee success, and how you can identify those with the right attitude for your business.

The top challenge for CEOs according to a survey from the Conference Board (January 2013) is Human Capital – the ability to develop and acquire the right people, with the right skills needed to take the business to the next level.  But skills alone are not enough.

“Hire for Attitude, Train for Aptitude”

This is an old mantra which, if ignored, can be costly.  Companies I have worked with have found that recruiting people with the right skills can be costly if they do not have the right ‘attitude’, where there is a lack of ‘fit’.  This is reflected in a study by Leadership IQ of over 20,000 new hires over 3 years which found that 46% of the people about to be hired will fail within the first 18 months on the job. And they won’t fail for lack of skills but rather for lack of attitude.

Top 5 Reasons for Why New Hires Failed

The following are the top areas of failure (i.e., were terminated, left under pressure, received disciplinary action or significantly negative performance reviews):

  • Coachability (26%): the lack of ability to accept and implement feedback from bosses, colleagues, customers and others.
  • Emotional Intelligence (23%): the lack of ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, and accurately assess others’ emotions.
  • Motivation (17%): insufficient drive to achieve one’s full potential and excel in the job.
  • Temperament (15%): attitude and personality not suited to the particular job and work environment.
  • Technical Competence (11%): functional or technical skills required to do the job.

The key point from this is that when new hires fail, and 46% of them will, 89% of the time it’s because of attitude and only 11% of the time because of skill.

As such, the key predictor of a new hire’s success or failure is their attitude, not their skills.  As such we need to be clear on what attitude we are hiring for. To do this requires two steps:

  • Define the Specific Attitudes – what are the attitudes that make your business different from the rest.  This is both in terms of what is good (which you want) and what is bad (which you want to avoid).
  • Adapting the Hiring & Interviewing Process – you need to make sure that you focus on these attitudes, so adapt how you do this as appropriate.

How Do We Do This?

Define the Specific Attitudes

Attitudes in themselves are not visible or tangible.  Where they are made apparent is in people’s behaviors.  How people behave is an active display of their attitudes.  Their behavior should also be a reflection of the business’ core values which provides guidance to people in the business.  A good example of how the core values are made tangible, and the expected behavior (and hence attitudes) is shown below.

The US Marine Corp

The US Marine Corps has Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment.  The concept of these core values runs throughout all aspects of Marine life, beginning in recruit training and continuing into combat. These “warrior ethos” provide guidance to Marines in difficult ethics situations and as a reminder to provide good order and discipline. These values are defined as:

  • Honor – integrity, responsibility and accountability.
  • Courage – do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons.
  • Commitment – devotion to the Corps and my fellow Marines.

Adapting the Hiring & Interviewing Process

Too often, when interviewing, we focus on prospective employees’ technical skills and competencies.  Why?  They are the easiest to assess but, as we have seen, they are a very poor predictor of the success or failure of a new employee.

When you look at jobs being advertised the experience, skills, and qualification that are detailed it can be seen that the business advertising the position has the expectation that a perfect candidate will apply.  This is about as far from reality as you can get.  Realistically, there is no ‘perfect candidate’ and, as such, there can only be attitudes that are right for your business – they will never be perfect.

Tests for Finding the ‘Right’ Attitudes

  • High Performers’ Test – what are the distinguishing attitudinal characteristics of your top performers.  List up to 10 responses that reflect your business.  For example:
    • They own the problem.
    • They always see problems as opportunities.
    • They are great listeners and communicators.
    • Etcetera.
  • Low Performers’ Test – what are the distinguishing attitudinal characteristics of your low performers.  List up to 10 responses that reflect your business.  These are not just the opposite of the attitudinal characteristics that make a high performer. For example:
    • They avoid responsibility and are quick to blame.
    • They focus on themselves rather than others.
    • They do the bare minimum work required.
    • Etcetera.

Once you’ve got your two lists, conduct a quick assessment to make sure every point is on target. This can be done by asking yourself the following two questions about each attitude listed:

  • How does this attitude add value or competitive advantage to this organization? (If the attitude brings no benefit to the organization, it doesn’t belong on the list).
  • Who cares about this attitude? (If the attitude doesn’t bring benefit to your customers, it doesn’t belong on the list)

Doing this provides insight into both what you want and what you don’t want in the terms of attitudes and the associated behaviors.  It then helps you to prepare for the interview by focusing on how they respond to questions around both these areas.  However, how the questions are phrased is just as important as what the question is.  You need to develop the question with the kind of response that you are looking for in mind.  But that is a separate article.

In summary, be clear on what values, attitudes and behaviors you want in your business, and which you want your new employees to exemplify in what they do and how they do it.  Get clarity by distinguishing the attitudinal characteristics of both your top and low performers – this helps you to identify what you want from a potential employee, and what you don’t want.  Around this then adapt your interview and hiring process to ask the kind of questions that will help you elicit answers which will help you determine the prospective employee’s values, attitudes, and behaviors.  Take this into account when you look at their technical skills, as it is their attitude that is a predictor of their skills – not their technical skills and competencies.

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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,

How to Bait Your Hook

What do good anglers know which we can use in driving stronger business growth and results?

Fishing is one of the most popular leisure time pursuits in the world.  There is something about going out there, rod in hand, to capture that ever elusive fish.  This takes time, patience, skill and – let’s be honest – a bit of luck.

One thing that experienced anglers do is that they don’t waste time in an unproductive location.  You can try a few casts, change the bait, but if the fish are not biting then it is time to move on to a new spot.

We need to be like good anglers – if the fish do not bite quickly, then be prepared to move on and try elsewhere.  You might try for the same fish in another location, or using different bait or lures, or even go after another type of fish.  You want to be in a market where you will get a positive reaction as early as possible.

Doing this will save you time, money and embarrassment – it will also allow you to learn from the experience, and to apply it in future fishing spots.  What we do or how good we think something is not important.  There is only one judge out there and that is the market, and the market only cares if what you’ve done meets its needs.

The lesson here is that business is not about us, it is about our customers.  The question I like to ask to illustrate is this: “Why do people buy a quarter-inch drill?

I get a lot of answers – to hang a picture, for home improvements, to replace my old hand-drill etcetera.  They are all wrong.

The answer is simple: “To drill a quarter-inch hole!”

Customers are not interested in the features of the drill – such as its colour, whether it is turbo-charged, the special safety grip it has etcetera – they are only interested in the outcome from using it.

So if your product or service is not getting traction or garnering the sales you want then you need to do three things:

  1. Check that your product or service provides the outcomes that the customers/market need (have your hook properly baited);
  2. Be prepared to change fishing holes if the fish aren’t biting
  3. Continually learn from your experience so that you can:
  • produce a product/service that better meets the needs of the market (don’t confuse this with a better product which has more features but still fails to address the needs) and;
  • find and locate better fishing holes more quickly.

What do you do to find the right fishing holes?  How long do you wait before you move to a different location?  Are you really focused on delivering the outcomes a customer needs or delivering the product or service itself?

Share your ideas, insights and experience!  Share the knowledge, share the wealth!

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

Engaging & Retaining Staff – Part 5

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 following 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 the third blog we continued looking at the second triad of 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.

In the fourth blog we looked at the next 3 elements:

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.

In this blog we look at the final 3 elements:

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.

Tenth Element – A Best Friend at Work

What does it mean?

This element is a strong predictor of performance, describing friendships which are supportive. With people it is human nature that will always win over company policy – so it is important to create, capture and leverage the power of friendships.

What is the evidence?

People look out for their friends; tolerate disagreements better, and are more likely to invite and share candid information, suggestions, and opinions, and to accept them without being threatened.  Gallup research indicates that as trust between employees increases, employee engagement increases, employee performance increases, camaraderie between employees increases, and employee happiness increases when workers report having a best friend on the job.

What should we do?

Best managers encourage friendships in the workplace by creating the conditions under which such relationships thrive.  As such managers need to get to know people in their team both individually and in terms of the dynamics that exist between them.  This then allows managers to put together people who probably could communicate, first of all, but secondly be or become friends.  To achieve this there needs to be good communication between all people, and objective criteria for the team.

Eleventh Element – Talking About Progress               

What does it mean?

Here the manager provides regular, insightful, and personal feedback to staff on both a formal and informal basis.

What is the evidence?

Staff need a clear picture or mirror of how they are performing to avoid the “Double Curse” where people ether over- or under-estimate their abilities in the following ways:

  • Self-analysis on performance is poor – people to tend to overestimate how they have done.  They lack the skill or knowledge to estimate properly – a form of unconscious incompetence.
  • Also undue modesty – people who do well know they have done well, but do not know their accomplishment is unique.  They tend to err in their estimates of others – consistently overestimating how well people do on the same test etc.

Gallup research indicates employees are more likely to believe they are compensated fairly when their manager gives them regular performance reviews. Additionally, employees who receive regular performance reviews tend to stay with the company longer and are twice as likely to tell others that their company is a great place to work.

What should we do?

Firstly, understand that the type of information that motivates a given employee, and realise that it may be different from the types that motivate others or the way that you yourself prefer.  When appraising performance for it to be effective it must be tailored for specific tasks, occupations and even personalities.

Focus on people’s strengths to stop them becoming actively disengaged, but provide constructive feedback on their weaknesses.  The appraisals are more meaningful, and perceived as more objective by staff, if they are held on a regular basis and the feedback is about relatively recent things.

Informal and on-going feedback is also important.  When discussing things with people get them to think what the options might be, don’t give them the answer right away.

A key question to ask yourself as a manager is “What can I do to improve, to coach, the person, to help him, to teach him?

Twelfth Element – Opportunities to Learn & Grow

What does it mean?

When employees feel they are learning and growing they work harder and more efficiently – this has a particular strong connection to customer engagement and profitability.

The importance of learning and growing is best appreciated when they are not there.  A lack causes frustration, and dissatisfaction as their enjoyment of work is lessened with no meaningful new challenges causes them to languish professionally and personally.

What is the evidence?

People perform when they are working toward specific difficult-to-attain targets rather than told to “do your best”.  These stretch goals are psychologically invigorating and good for business.  We need to look at the accomplishment not just in absolute terms, but also relative to what might have been and how people construe the results – especially the individual himself.

What should we do?

To match a worker with the right opportunities you need to have a deep understanding of the individual’s strengths and hopes for the future.  You need to have regular and meaningful conversations with them to develop this.

Summary
Employee engagement is crucial to retain key employees, to raising productivity and enabling the business to grow profitably.  If you don’t engage employees the best will leave, and those who are disengaged will quit and stay!
How good are you at using these 12 ways in an effective way:
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? What are you favourite ways or preferred ways to engage employees?
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. If you have any particular areas of interest you would like article on then please let me know.
Share your ideas, and share the wealth!
Share

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

Engaging & Retaining Staff – Part 4

 

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 following 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 the third blog we continued looking at the second triad of 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.

In this blog we look at the next 3 elements:

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.

Seventh Element – My Opinion Seems to CountWhat does it mean?

Great managers are receptive to hearing ideas and opinions from their direct reports.  There is the need to understand the dynamics of a diverse group of people who are working together to avoid turf wars etc.  Managers and staff need to know and respect each others’ roles.

What is the evidence?

About 50% of employees who say their company is receptive to hearing their opinions report they are able to deliver very creative ideas while on the job.  Gallup studies reveal when employee-generated ideas are accepted and implemented, the commitment level to executing these ideas from employees is higher than normal.

What should we do?

  1. Be genuine and authentic with people, make them feel important and that they count
  2. Every system depends on the motivation of the people who run it; as such motivation requires people to strongly agree that “At my work, my opinions seem to count”.
  3. Make people feel that their opinions count,  this helps them to bring out more creative ideas and a higher level of engagement. As such it has a substantial impact on customer experience, productivity, employee retention and safety which collectively improve profitability.
  4. Incorporating employees’ ideas has 2 benefits: firstly, often the ideas are good; and secondly, it makes it more likely that the employees will be committed to its execution.

Approaches for developing this include:

  • Regular meetings with ground rules including one speaker at a time, no blaming, speak in headlines, give constructive feedback and “to directly address the issue.
  • Role plays – especially between positions where there are difficulties or tensions, with people playing the others roles.
  • Developing plans around how to work together, and what specifically you are going to do in terms of combined roles, communication and expectations.

Eighth Element – A Connection with the Mission of the Company

What does it mean?

Great managers are able to connect their direct reports to the mission of the company resulting in employees feeling their job is important.

This is about having an emotional connection with the company.  People need to have meaning and purpose, they want to understand how they fit into and contribute to the grand scheme of things.  This gives them a sense of purpose and belonging.

For example, Kodak positioned itself not as a seller of film, but a capturer of memories.  This focuses on the emotional outcomes of what they do, rather than the rational tasks of their work.

The more people agree with this statement is predictive of its performance on a wide array of measures

What is the evidence?

Project teams that are mission-driven report 15-to-30% lower turnover rates. According to Gallup research, trust-level in the decisions of upper-manager increases, less on-the-job conflict happens, and greater commitments to getting the job done occurs when employees feel a direct connection exists between their job and the mission of the company.

What should we do?

There are 3 “lenses” through which an individual can filter the world and define for himself or herself whether the work contributes to the quality of their life or not.  It is not the work that defines the individual.  The 3 “lenses” or categories include:

  • Work is a job; a necessary inconvenience and way of earning money with which they can achieve personal goals and enjoy themselves outside of work. They are the least engaged.
  • Work as a career; they enjoy the increased pay, prestige and status that comes as they work their way up the corporate ladder;
  • Work as a calling; usually associated with the belief that the work contributes to the greater good and makes the world a better place.

We need to be clear on the emotional purpose of the company, and how each individual’s work contributes.  We need to highlight what the values of the company are, and how what they do reinforces those values and contributes to the outcomes.  Having an on-going dialogue about this and making it relevant to what they do helps to strengthen this.

Ninth Element – Coworkers Committed to Doing Quality Work

What does it mean?

Great managers develop engaged staff who are committed and motivated to doing a great job

What is the evidence?

Research shows that 67% of employees fail to strongly agree that their co-workers are committed to doing quality work. As such, if people do “not pull their weight” it can have a negative impact on morale and productivity. For example:

One man pulls at 100%.  If two men are pulling the average man will exert himself at 93%, with four men it is at 75% each.  By the time the eighth man is added, each man is pulling only on average only half what he could.  In fact, 8 men on the rope pull no harder than seven, as the other seven relax enough to subtract whatever the eighth man adds.

So work groups can be 2+2=5, but they also have the capability of 2+2=3!

This can mean that teams with a poor work ethic and poor sense of responsibility, can become a place to hide laziness, push work to other people and to create a culture of blame.

What should we do?

We need to distinguish whether the lack of performance is about a lack of aptitude (i.e. they lack the relevant skills) or a lack of attitude (they lack the right behaviours).  You can only train people for aptitude; you can never do this for attitude.  Your three options are to Terminate, Transfer or Train.

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 and final blog we look at the final three elements including:

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.

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

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

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.

Share

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!

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What to Do When You Fail to Make the Right Impression

Why we sometimes fail to come across as we intend.

We often want to make the ‘right’ impression, but inadvertently end up making the ‘wrong’ impression.

This can happen with your boss, a potential employer, or someone who represents a romantic interest – in fact, anyone with whom you interact. And it can happen despite our best efforts and having the best of intentions. Not coming across as you intend – particularly in your initial encounter with someone – can cause big problems in your personal and professional life. People may mistrust you, dislike you, or not even notice you. Sometimes the fault is your own, sometimes the reason why may lie with other people

Why is this?

There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Perceiving people accurately is hard – often the way we see one another can be irrational, incomplete, and inflexible and largely automatic. Although we can distinguish between strong emotions expressed by others, it is remarkably difficult to do with more differentiated emotions. How you or other people look when concerned, puzzled, anxious or confused is very difficult if not impossible to distinguish accurately.  Because we know what we are feeling when we express it we assume that others can discern that feeling. Wrong!  This is why we are often “misunderstood” when we believe we have been crystal clear.
  • What we say, do and express is subject to interpretationwe cannot accurately assess others, or others accurately assess us, because we don’t know what they are thinking or why. So our brains, automatically, pick an interpretation which reflects our beliefs and experiences. So we develop an immediate perception of others, and they of us – rightly or wrongly.
  • We use shortcuts – here we use heuristics and assumptions to fill in the gaps.
    • Heuristics – these are rules of thumb which we use to help us guide our interpretation of someone, an event or a situation in making a decision. For example, when someone believes the opinion of a person of authority on a subject just because the individual is an authority figure. People apply this heuristic all the time in matters such as science, politics, and education. This can be described as an “authority heuristic”.
    • Assumptions – these guide what the perceiver sees, how that information is interpreted, and how it is remembered. As such, assumptions form an integral part of his or her perception of you. There are some assumptions so universal and automatic that you can count on other people making them about you, and that most people are unaware that are making them. For example, if you have a very positive trait — if you are smart, beautiful, funny, kind, and so forth — you are likely to have other positive traits. (and you can count on people to have no idea that they are doing it); the first impression you give is the “right” one, and it shapes how everything else about you is perceived, and you are like the other members of groups to which you appear to belong.

So even when you are meeting someone for the first time he or she will be filling in details about you – even before you start speaking!  So what can you do about this?

  • Find out in advance as much as you can about the other person’s likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses. This will help you to anticipate what he or she may be projecting onto you.
  • Plan what you want to emphasize and/or underplay to help create the right effect.
  • Use the primacy effect – this is where the initial information or points you make are more likely to be remembered than those later on. In short, your initial conversation and behavior will have a greater and disproportionate impact than what occurs later.
  • Make your opinions and values explicitly known in a way that is meaningful and relevant to the other person.
  • Be intentional – it is not enough to have good intentions.

Making, Leveraging & Overcoming First Impressions

First Impressions Count

Remember first impressions can always be changed and/or improved on.  First impressions are important as they begin to lay the foundation of your relationship with another person, so if the foundation is not how you would like it to then be quick to smooth over or re-pour the concrete before it sets.  Why?  Because this foundation also represents the inertia of the other person’s attitudes towards you.  If these attitudes are favorable then it can be used to generate momentum, if they are unfavorable then a considerable effort is required to overcome the inertia and then gain momentum.

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.