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Monday, November 26, 2012

Usefulness as an Employee Satisfaction Tool

Our little boy loves Thomas the Train.  Although it can be mind numbing to listen to Thomas and his friends over and over again,  listening to it enough has led me to pick up on the fact that the underlying theme is that all the engines' purpose is to be useful.  Not happy, not successful, not prosperous, not even efficient, but useful.  The usefulness theme is embedded in the videos, the songs, the website, in all things Thomas.

What if the workplace was embedded with the theme of making you and your employees useful?  How would this shape employee satifaction efforts and organizational commitment and how would it shape how you handle leadership? What would be useful for you to do for your employees?

While I sometimes tire of the constant requests for "Choo Choo" (aka Thomas and his friends), I am pleased that the usefulness the lesson is being taught through one of my child's favorite things to watch and do.  He not only sees that hard work is valuable, but that each train is different and, therefore, has a different way to go about being useful.   The "steamies" have a different purpose than the "diesels" and that's okay.  Taking it even further, each individual engine is especially good at something.  One is obsessed with being on time (which you could see serving to be useful in certain situations), one is strong and hauls the heavy loads, while another is nice and clean and is responsible for carrying passengers on the island of Sodor where they all live to be useful.

While you might think that useful could be, well boring,  it turns out that all the engines on Sodor are happy and satisfied.  The only time they aren't is when they aren't serving their intended purpose.   The end state of being useful actually leads to a greater end state of job satisfaction and commitment.

Research show that a key component in creating job satisfaction is the nature of the work or the characteristics of the job.  Matching people with the right work helps create a sense of satisfaction that leads to motivation and success.  Why? Because being useful means meeting a need, and deep down we all want to meet needs, whether it be our own needs or others. You want every employee to feel a sense of meeting a need that maximizes your company's success. Here are some tips for helping you emphasize usefulness which will help lead to job satisfaction:

1.  Place people in assignments that allow them to feel as though they are important and competent (perceived competence) based on their strengths and personality.
2.  Allow competent people the opportunity to make decisions about how they do their work or how they get it done  (see Task-Purpose-Endstate as an example of this) (participative decision making).
3.  Related to number two, leave those that are competent alone to do their job (job autonomy).
4.  With the right training and leadership from you, allow people to expand their job role within their scope of usefulness so they can learn and grow with your organization (job scope).*

When have you felt most useful?

*Source Jex, S.M. & Britt, T.W.,  Organizational Psychology, A Scientist-Practioner Approach. 2008. pp 137&155.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Leadership How-To: Team Communications

One of my favorite companies, Red Sage Communications, Inc.,  who did my website and marketing materials, asked me to write a blog on team communication a few months ago.

You can check it out here on their blog: Communication and Team Work on Red Sage's blog

There are five tips, or how-tos in improving team communication.   Happy Reading!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Task- Purpose- Endstate

This posting comes from guest blogger, Captain Davis Ozier of the United States Army.   

Within an organization, developing our personnel is a critical task that receives a lot of talk but never much attention.  Managers generally think, hope, and assume that subordinates will be developed by simply observing those around them or that merely teaching them a task is sufficient to be considered as developing them in their position.  It doesn’t.  People are at the center of our organizations and the successful execution of our daily business falls on their shoulders.  It is therefore imperative that leaders spend time developing their people to grow and succeed, and empowering our subordinates is a great first step.

The US Army has historically trained a topic or subject on a model of Task – Conditions – Standard, which defines the task, the conditions under which the task will be completed, and the standard that must be reached to be considered a successful execution of said task.  What if, as leaders, we adopt a slightly different approach, and modify our format to Task – Purpose – Endstate?  Define the task at hand, the reason for doing it, and what it should look like at the end.  Doing so empowers the individual or team while affording them maximum creativity and flexibility.  And who do you want to rise within your organization – those that can only execute tasks that are described in detail to them or those that have the ingenuity and agility to develop creative solutions on their own?

Adopting the Task – Purpose – Endstate model has its drawbacks, though.  There will be a learning curve where the subordinate might, and probably will, fail.  This failure is not only acceptable, it is encouraged!  Ask yourself the simple question, have you learned more from your failures or your successes?  As long as leaders can identify the critical tasks ahead of time that are no-fail missions and ensure they are appropriately resourced, there is no reason to worry about potential failures.

Leaders must prioritize development of our team members.  However, it won’t happen on its own – it must be a deliberate and planned effort.  Take a moment and reflect on how your bosses have developed you?  

How do you currently develop your subordinates?  

Monday, November 5, 2012

November Leadership Carnival is up!

Another one of our blog postings is featured in this month's Leadership Carnival.  Check it out here:

November Leadership Carnival

Leadership How-Tos: Firefighting and 80/20 Rule

For those of you that were a part of the leadership classes, several previous blog posts highlight how-tos in the firefighting and dealing with "slackers" conversations.

Check them out: 

80/20 Rule   The how-tos are numbered in the middle of the page.

Are you a firefighter: Part 1   The how-tos are bulleted towards the bottom of the page under the heading "How to put away your fire hose" 

Are you a firefighter: Part 2:  This one is linked to our discussion on being an empowering leader.  The how-tos are numbered in the middle of the page.   The best how-to in this lesson, I think, is another two-birder:
Do you need to assign a task to a team member to get something done?  Then: 

 Bird 1:  Assign the task to someone who is not the expert in this field.   This gives them the opportunity to learn and helps build confidence and empowerment.
Bird 2:  Get your "expert" this task area to mentor and coach the new person in this area.  This shows your expert you trust them to train others, which builds confidence and empowerment too.

You've got two people now who are competent in an area, and hopefully two people who are empowered by following this how-to.