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Motivating and Engaging

Four steps to help people become more engaged
November 2009
Motivating and Engaging

My notes this week are inspired by another Nelson Mandela story.

The Mercedes Benz plant in South Africa learned that if you educate and motivate people, you'll see an increase in productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.

For many years the managers said their quality problems were due to an unmotivated, lazy workforce.  That's why it took them two weeks to make a car that had 70 defects.  By contrast, the Mercedes Benz plant in Europe could turn out a car in one week that had only fourteen defects.  Then something happened.  Plant workers donated their time and the company donated the parts to make a car for the then recently released Nelson Mandela.

To the managers amazement, the car was completed in one week and had only ten minor problems.  A light bulb went off in the managers heads.

Their workers were capable.  They were educated enough to do the job and do it well.  They had simply not been engaged enough to give their very best.  It was at that point that the Mercedes leadership learned that they had to engage their workers hearts, not just their hands.

So how do you have a workplace where people are engaged, without creating a 'Mandela' moment?  It's not rocket science.  If you incorporate the following four suggestions, then over time you will see a greater engagement in your team.  Guaranteed!!

Kind regards

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Susan's 2009 Photo


1: Set clear expectations

The people you manage need to be clear about their roles. Let people know what they need to do and why.

2: Provide the right resources

People need to have the right information, training, materials, equipment and time to achieve agreed outcomes. Think about what it takes to do the job, where there are gaps in resources, and do something about it.

3: Focus on each person

We all like to do what we are good at. Understanding each person's particular talents, finding ways to use these talents most effectively in their work, and helping them develop these talents into strengths is a key to helping people become more engaged.

4: Recognize and acknowledge good performance

Acknowledging good performance and spending time with productive and talented employees is often overlooked. Coaching a good employee to greatness is a far more productive use of your time than working with under-performance. Neglecting talented employees makes them question their confidence in their own skills, their motivation and their loyalty.

Where's the Evidence?

The Gallup organization identified the elements of worker engagement by conducting hundreds of focus groups and many thousands of worker interviews in all kinds of organizations, at all levels, in most industries and in many countries. Out of hundreds of variables they found 12 key employee expectations that, when satisfied, form the foundation of strong feelings of engagement.

The result was a 12-question survey (below) in which employees are asked to rate their response to each question on a scale of one to five.

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

The single most important variable in employee productivity and loyalty turns out to be not pay or perks or benefits or workplace environment.
Rather, according to the Gallup Organization, it's the quality of the relationship between employees and their direct supervisors.
It's having clear and consistent expectations, its having someone who values their unique qualities, and encourages and supports their growth and development.
As Mercedes Benz found, it's winning hearts and minds that counts.

You are welcome to click here to forward this article to a colleague who may find it useful, Thanks, Susan