I was discussing Employee Engagement Expectations with a customer recently and he happened to mention that they had just completed an anonymous engagement survey. He was disgruntled because, although the survey suggested pockets of people who were likely to leave the organisation due to lack of recognition, as just one example, he didn’t know who or where they were and couldn’t therefore take action. In other words –
‘Someone somewhere in the organization is unhappy about something but we don’t know the details and can’t therefore have a progressive conversation’
So why do organisations involve themselves in the anonymity of such surveys? Frankly its due to a perception (not always reality) of a lack of trust.
In other words they believe that employees will be more open if they don’t have to put their name to something. Doesn’t this reflect on the very organisers of the survey who unconsciously believe the organisation can’t be trusted?
Engagement tools are really useful for retaining talented staff! But they have to be used properly. Dan Harrison believes that employee engagement is a two-way process – it’s as much the organisation’s responsibility to keep staff engaged as it is for them to be engaged. A survey should be the foundation for a conversation on an employee’s expectations. For example, if an employee wants recognition, in what format does he/she expect this, who from and how often? If an employee is looking for development – in what areas, when and what format? OK so it won’t always be possible to fulfil expectations but at least the employee receives the message that the organisation is interested in them and will consider them when opportunities arise.
Such an approach requires trust so pre-framing the exercise is crucial. Employees must understand that the tool is to be used for improving engagement and not for anything else.
If you would like to know how to assess groups of employees, individuals or even the whole organisation for engagement expectations quickly and effectively, and to see the results instantly on an easy-to-read visual dashboard so that you know with whom to have progressive conversations please get in touch at [email protected] or on 07768 922244 or find more information here. You can also read further about engagement analytics in this blog.
In the meantime ‘Stay Engaged!’
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You’ve just completed a great project, met the deadlines and brought it in on budget. You are feeling good but nobody says a word? As days go by nothing comes back and you start to doubt your success. The internal dialogue ramps up to a point where you become totally focused on whether or not you did indeed complete a successful project. You venture to ask a couple of questions of the people from whom you may have expected some positive feedback but the bemused looks set you back even further so what’s going on?
Unconscious behaviour patterns are playing out here. You may have a high need for recognition and appreciation because your external reference system means you value other peoples opinions, external qualifications etc in order to measure your own success. Internally referenced people, on the other hand, measure their success against their own internal measures. They include the word ‘I’ to a large degree in their conversation and don’t need others to tell them they have done a good job. They will be bemused when externally referenced people ask for feedback and unconsciously view it as ‘needy’.
No feedback needed, thanks
Internally referenced people don’t take kindly to feedback because unconsciously they have a high degree of certainty that they are right (they are not always of course!). The unconscious thinking is that ‘if I don’t need feedback then nor does anyone else’. Consequently they don’t give it out and if they do it can sounds contrived and awkward. This type of behaviour can often come across as ‘confidence’ and will invariably help the internally reference person up the promotion ladder. They can also be very hard to give feedback to so here is a tip for you –
If you want to give feedback to an internally referenced person start with ‘Of course you probably already know this ……..’
In my work as a leadership facilitator, I often work with organisations who include ‘Trust’ or ‘Trustworthiness’ in their company values. This is a worthy value indeed and is often described in terms of accountability, responsibility for outcomes, transparency and supportiveness – again all very virtuous. So why is it that when I ask groups of employees about their company values, they can only just about remember them and find it difficult to describe them in meaningful terms? Of course, the first reason is sometimes obvious – they have been imposed on them from above and employees have not been given the opportunity to engage with the values and work out what they mean in terms of behaviour. In which case they remain just words that appear on the walls of the organisation or on the website but not in the hearts of the employees.
But let’s take a deeper look –
In reality, as an employee, you are asking me to trust my fellow employees to complete projects and tasks that are going to keep both internal and external customers happy. Seems simple enough? So, what gets in the way? Perhaps a delve into unconscious behavioural preferences might give us some answers. The following continuums of preference will help us gain some insights.
Specifics – Big picture
People who prefer to work in the detail of a project are unlikely to trust the person with a big picture perspective to ‘do the job as well as I can’. The big picture perception is that ‘this person will never get it done because he/she is so bogged down in the detail so I can’t trust them to get it done within the deadline’.
Internal Reference – External Reference
Internally referenced people don’t need others to tell them the way things are going or whether something is going to work – they simply ‘know’. They are not always right of course but that’s ‘just the way it is’. Externally referenced people measure their success externally i.e. someone else’s validation or a measure such as a degree, medal or certificate. Internally referenced people see this as ‘flakey’ as externally referenced people often ask for feedback. So, trust flies out the window here too. Externally referenced people can view the internally referenced guy/gal as arrogant and ‘can’t be told’ so is obviously untrustworthy.
Procedures – Options
Procedural people get things done by following a procedure which has either been tried before or has been clearly laid out for them.Options people review different choices and will often rewrite new procedures, much to the annoyance of the procedurals. Definitely can’t be trusted because they change their minds!Procedurals on the other hand, from the perspective of the person who prefers choice, can’t be trusted to get creative and come up with new ideas and innovations!
Considerers – Doers
Considerers like to take their time to consider every aspect of a project before setting off. ‘Oh we’ll never get this off the ground’ shout the doers. ‘If we want it done by the deadline considerers can’tbe trusted!’ ‘Woha – hold back’ shout the considerers to the doers. ‘We need to think this through – if you are just going to take off, we will make mistakes and get it wrong’. Definitely can’t be trusted.
And of course, there are many more unconscious patterns that make us either unconsciously trust or mistrust people. These are extreme examples but nonetheless common in organisations and at grass roots level are far more dominant than the values passed down from above. So now we have conflict and are in need of an answer.
The answer is simple – recognition and acceptance. Recognising these patterns and valuing them all is paramount to success. Put a detail and global person together and they will come up with an excellent answer. A procedural person will put an options idea into practice and follow it through beautifully. But trust will only come about through awareness of and capitalisation on, behavioural preference!
If you would like to know more about behavioural preferences and how they affect our results please call Pat on 07768 92224 or email [email protected]
Pat Hutchinson is the co-author of Brilliant NLP, the Brilliant NLP Workbook and How to be Confident with NLP. She is also the author of How to Sell with NLP all published by Pearson Education. She has been working with leaders using NLP for 21 years. For more information about Pat please see her Linked In profile
How do you know when you interview someone for a job that they will live up to your Company Values? How do you measure employee behaviours against your Company Values?
Here are some examples of some of the values of three of our major high street names –
The first and the third have a brief description of what each of them means. The second one is a straightforward list of words.
Working in large companies as an independent consultant I am intrigued to know what the values mean to the employees. If appropriate during a group session I will often ask who knows what they are and have learnt not to be surprised at the number of people who either don’t know or have them written down somewhere and have to retrieve them in order to answer the question. This is often despite the fact that they are written on large posters all over the building. So why does this happen? It’s simple – it’s about connection, meaning and expectation.
I am going to use a simple model to explain what I mean.
The Alignment Model
Gregory Bateson and latterly Robert Dilts came to the conclusion that we exist at different levels –as individuals, teams and organisations.
At the very highest level we have a PURPOSE. In organisations this is often put in terms of a mission statement or more fashionably as a simple a Purpose for the organisation. As individuals and teams we have a purpose, whether consciously or unconsciously, behind everything we do and want to achieve and, if stated clearly, this purpose will help to keep us on track.
At the next level down we have IDENTITY/ROLE. In other words what role do we and others play in achieving the purpose. This is not so much about job title as the changing nature of the roles required of us in relation to each purpose eg, facilitator, coach, educator, entertainer, manager, designer, support, minder and so on.
Now here comes the level of VALUES AND BELIEFS. What is important to us as an organization, team or individual? Companies spend time determining high level values as seen above and display them on their websites and walls. The expectation here is that employees will understand them, integrate them and live by them at work.
CAPABILITY comes next. Do we have the capability to fulfill the purpose. What’s missing? If it’s important and we believe it’s possible then this level can be satisfied.
Effective BEHAVIOUR is the result of all the above levels being aligned. This is the visible part of the process and the one that is often judged.
Finally its behaviour, often unconscious once it becomes habitual, that determines the culture or the ENVIRONMENT of the organization – it’s the visible and kinaesthetic manifestation of all the levels of above.
What happens in organisations in relation to values?
Organisations are very good at coming up with a set of meaningful values. The question is meaningful for who, and how do we test for them at interview and beyond? How do they become part of the muscle of the organization? The trouble with values is that they are generally stated in high level, abstract language that is open to interpretation by individuals if indeed they get that far. Abstract words generally remain just that – abstract! Hence the inability often of people to relate to them, own them and live by them.
Take collaboration for example. If you were to walk around an organization with this value what sort of behaviours would you see? Collaborating with who, when, about what? Does everyone have to collaborate or just a few people? What does collaboration look and feel like? How do I test for this at interview without asking a direct question about collaboration to which the interviewee is likely to have a prepared answer, particularly having read the values on the website beforehand? Collaboration is a working preference that not everyone is comfortable with.
And what about humility? How would people demonstrating humility in the workplace be behaving? Or passion? Passion in organisations is often missing if research into job enjoyment is anything to go by. Passionate about what? How does it show?
The reason for the disconnect is often because organisations stop when they get to the values level. The people who determined the values in the first place know what they mean to them and make the assumption that everyone else will know what they mean. They also, until now, had no way of measuring them effectively.
Harrison Assessment Talent Solutions
More than 30 years ago Dr Dan Harrison began to conduct some research into what makes people perform well in the workplace. His research concluded that if people enjoy at least 75% of their work they will do it well and become more productive. He also utilized paradox theory in the design of his unique talent solution which has been developed and refined over the years to become one of the most effective talent solutions on the market today. Basically saying that assessments that utilize a bipolar measuring mechanism are missing the point that people can demonstrate a combination of two opposing traits – it’s not a question of either or it’s a combination of both which produce balanced versatility of behaviour. For example, being frank doesn’t mean that you are never diplomatic. You can have both traits. These two factors alone make Harrison Assessments one of the most effective business tools on the market today. It is this system which can determine the behaviours which sit behind the values and which can be measured by completion of an on-line SmartQuestionnaire™.
Using the HATS system, organisations can create a template for the behavioural expectations of their employees. This template can then be utilized in recruitment, alongside similar job specific templates and can also be incorporated into the appraisal system if appropriate. This latter has the strong benefit of raising awareness of behavioural expectation as well as giving managers the confidence to ask questions in relation to such, normally subjective, aspects of performance. Such conscious awareness of expectations creates a culture that directly aligns with the values and purpose of the organisation.
If you would like to know more about matching behaviours to values call 44 (0)7768 922244.