eMusings Newsletter


         VOLUME THREE, ISSUE 8   


3 Human Elements


I'm not sure what part of the country you live in. (Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition but Grammar Girl says this is perfectly legitimate in some cases and this is one such case.) Here, the heat and humidity are so oppressive, I rejoice when the temp plummets to the high 90's. And I'm perfectly happy to refrain from cutting the grass by pleading "too hot," although I do feel a smidge of guilt when I hear my neighbor fire up his weed whacker. But when a recent kayaking trip I was looking forward to got called on account of "it's just too darn hot to sit on top of a piece of fiberglass under the hot sun for hours," it made me realize again how much climate affects our lives. Keeping that in mind, it's not hard to make the leap to how much WorkClimate affects our lives as well.


In last month's emusings, we looked at Employee Engagement - what it is, surveys and what employees want. This month, we take a look at shared ownership of that engagement and at engagement from the POV of the employee. And while we focus on a number of things that leaders need to do in order to support employee engagement, once again we discover that the number one action associated with the highest levels of engagement is the creation of a healthy WorkClimate that drives high performance (BlessingWhite, 2011).


Also, a note about this and future emusings. I've noticed that my in-box fills up much more quickly at the beginning of the month. (I get a lot of abstracts, articles and newsletters.) With that in mind, we've decided to put emusings on a middle of the month schedule. So if you've been wondering why your August issue is "late," that's why.


We love getting feedback so please feel free to email us with any comments or suggestions. And do what you can to stay cool!


 Jennie Ayers

Senior Partner, BoldWork  
In This Issue
Let's Get Engaged! - Part II
Are You Sam or Diane?
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Quote for the Month

"Devising and maintaining a climate in which others can put a dent in the universe is a leader's  

creative act."   

                       Warren Bennis
"Let's Get Engaged" Part II by Jennie Ayers                                           

(536 words - estimated reading time: less than 3 minutes)


Last month, we looked at the subject of employee engagement and what workers really want. And we expressed our opinion that everyone - individuals, managers and leaders - contributes to that engagement. This month's emusings takes a look at that shared ownership.


Employee Engagement & Shared Ownership


The Individual



opportunities ahead
Individuals need to take  initiative to create opportunities to build their skills.

Each of us has much more influence on our level of engagement than we may at first perceive. We each have our own unique relationship with work and it's up to each of us to know what challenges us, what's meaningful to us, what motivates us. Those aren't questions others can answer for us. If we're not clear on our core values and goals, we can't look for those values in our work or see a clear path to meeting our goals within the context of our work. Each of us must take the initiative when it comes to building our skills, clarifying our goals and re-shaping our work in order to apply those skills to meet both personal and organizational goals.


The Manager


Managers can feel squeezed between company mandates and front line employees. We also know that managers are key in helping individual employees find ways to engage with their organization. But in order to engage others, managers must first be engaged themselves. It's almost impossible to jump-start someone else when your own battery is low.


Managers can best impact engagement in three ways:


  1. Coaching. Top drivers of job satisfaction are the opportunity to develop new skills and then use those skills in meaningful ways to help make an organization successful. Managers need to know their employees - their strengths and aspirations - and ensure ongoing dialogue to provide feedback and relevant development opportunities.
  2. Build Relationships. The more employees know their managers, the more likely they are to be engaged. Share your own personal values about work, the challenges you face and your own path to development.
  3. Understand Team Dynamics. One member of a team who's disengaged can drag down the performance of the entire team. Be aware of problems that can arise and deal with those problems swiftly and openly. Capitalize on the engagement energy generated by other team members.


The Executive Leader


a manager engages with employees 



Ultimately, the woman (or man) at the top may have the greatest impact on engagement, even though s/he may never meet many of the people who work for their organization. Others look to them to set the tone for the organization. To build engagement, leaders must:   


  • Communicate with clarity the company's overall goals and how those goals are aligned with mission, vision and strategy.
  • Share with employees the "what" and "why" of your actions on a regular basis.
  • Build trust with employees, so that employees can "hear" the message.
  • Ensure that direct reports are engaged by knowing what energizes them; if possible, help them reshape their roles and ensure continuous learning.

And last but certainly not least, leaders must hold themselves and others accountable for building a work climate that fuels high performance and enhances engagement. Generating that kind of work climate is the single most important factor in ensuring that all employees are - and stay - engaged.


What are YOU doing to produce an engaging work climate? 



"Are You Sam or Diane?" by Janice Criddle 

(488 words - estimated reading time: 2 minutes)


disengaged employeeI ducked out to my favorite coffee place for some quiet time and couldn't help overhearing the conversation coming from the table behind me. I was determined to tune out until I heard four fateful words that compelled me to listen: "I hate my job." A stolen quick glance behind me identified the job hater as a guy in his 30's - his companion at the table was a woman about his age. (I'll call them Sam and Diane...not that they ever identified themselves, but I've got a soft spot for "Cheers.") As I continued to listen, this is what I heard. Sam's always looking for ways to get out of being at work. And when he is there, he does just enough to keep from getting fired. (Sam is a perfect example of the kind of employee who gives no discretionary effort.)


Diane was sympathetic. She couldn't imagine what it would be like to hate to go to work every day. In his current emotional state, I don't think Sam could comprehend that anyone would love their work. But Diane does. And she told Sam why.    

  • She has a great boss. He keeps her informed about what's going on in the organization and where it's headed. Diane feels like her supervisor cares about her - not just the work she produces, but who she is as a person, what her goals are.
  • Diane admits that there's stuff about her job that can be tedious and boring. But overall, she knows she's contributing to a company she believes in. And she gets to use her skills and feels valued for her contribution.
  • She can also see a future with the company. She's got some specific goals she wants to pursue and her boss encourages that. Diane's boss keeps communication going by discussing possible opportunities, development plans, and assignments that allow "the stretch." (Her boss is a wizard at finding OJT and learning opportunities even though there aren't many training dollars.)
  • A big thing for Diane is that she's not afraid of making mistakes. In her company, when mistakes happen or initiatives fail, employees work through the situation as a team and try to learn from the experience, rather than fix blame.

That sounds like fantasy land to Sam. None of that stuff happens where he works. Diane encourages him to speak up instead of complaining, passively hoping the situation's going to change. Sam shrugs off her suggestion. Diane: "Do you even know what you want?"

Bingo. That's the big question. Until employees know what matters to them, until employees identify goals they want to reach, it's not likely they'll take any initiative in finding ways to meet their needs. During the conversation, it was clear to me that Diane knew exactly what made work meaningful to her. It was equally clear that Sam had no idea what would make work meaningful to him.


What about you? Are you Diane? Or does Sam's behavior more closely resemble your own?  

boldworklogoAt BoldWork, we specialize in helping businesses and organizations optimize the performance of the people who work for them.

Typically, our clients come to us when they are seeking to change, to solve problems or to challenge a status quo that no longer works. Most importantly, they call us when they want to create a WorkClimate that increases motivation and strengthens employee engagement.

Please take a moment and visit our website at www.doboldwork.com to find out more about us and what we have to offer. Or contact us for additional information at info@doboldwork.com