Sprint Engagement - Part Four
Part 4 of 4
Finish How You Started - BIG!
Welcome to week #4 of our Spring Engagement article. We're in the home stretch of a long marathon. This is when focus matters the most because keeping focus ensures success and allows us to end the way that we started--with BIG RESULTS. Sometimes, though, we can lose focus and become distracted by the next big thing. It could be next season's Boo at the Zoo, private events, or even next year's budget. We might even justify it by thinking "We're in a good spot. Let's just take it easy and coast through the last few weeks of the season..." True, it might be easier to just coast but, by doing so, you might be leaving a tremendous amount of money on the table. Isn't that bad leadership? Isn't that, quite simply put, mismanagement? Quality leaders don't fizzle out.
Quality leaders finish what they started--and they do it with the same level of excellence and commitment they had on Day One. It's intentional. It's deliberate. Quality Leaders focus on keeping their teams engaged and they use the 12 Elements of Great Managing to make it happen. Imagine the reaction you'll receive once the final numbers come in. You've crushed your goal! You're a hero! Now that's a Quality Leader!
In their acclaimed book Twelve: The Elements of Great Managing (Gallup, 2006), authors Rodd Wagner and James Harter have outlined twelve essential elements that are designed to keep your team engaged all season long. Here's what we've covered so far:
1. Knowing What's Expected (Week 1)
2. Materials and Equipment (Week 1)
3. The Opportunity to Do What I Do Best (Week 1)
4. Recognition and Praise (Week 2)
5. Someone at Work Cares About Me as a Person (Week 2)
6. Someone at Work Encourages My Development (Week 2)
7. My Opinion Seems to Count (Week 3)
8. A Connection With the Mission of the Company (Week 3)
9. Coworkers Committed to Doing Quality Work (Week 3)
Week Four - Elements 10, 11, & 12
Element Ten: A Best Friend at Work
Measured by the survey question "I have a best friend at work", this element is perhaps the most controversial of all of the 12 elements. In fact, when I worked at Universal Orlando, they did not include this element in their annual survey. But this element is important and has a direct correlation to job satisfaction, productivity, and a safer working environment (fewer workplace accidents).
"Gallup itself would have dropped the statement if not for one stubborn fact: It predicts performance. Something about a deep sense of affiliation with the people in an employee's team drives him to do positive things for the business he otherwise would not do... Early research that identified the 12 Elements revealed a very different social bond among employees in top-performing teams. Subsequent large-scale, multi-company analyses confirmed that the Tenth Element is a scientifically salient ingredient in obtaining a number of business-relevant outcomes, including profitability, safety, inventory control, and -- most notably -- the emotional connection and loyalty of customers to the organization serving them."
That said, here are some ideas for ways in which we can encourage friendship at work:
⦁ Finders Fees. Ask your HR Department about setting up an incentive program through which current employees are rewarded for new referrals. Perhaps $25 as soon as the new hire reports for and completes orientation and another $50 once the new hire reaches the 90-day mark.
⦁ Potlucks. Everyone loves food so putting on a monthly potluck can be a lot of fun. Choose a theme and promote it amongst your team. You could do, for example, Mardi Gras in March, Appetizers in April, and Mexican Food in May (for Cinco de Mayo). Get creative and involve the entire team.
⦁ After-Work Activities. Organize monthly after-work activities like mini-golf night, bowling, and movie nights. It's always fun when the team can go out together, let their hair down, and to get to know each other outside of work.
If you're still on the fence with Element Ten, perhaps it might help to ask this question:
How often do your corporate executive types go off for a two or three-day retreat where they golf, team build, and socialize?
Doesn't that qualify as building friendships too?
Element Eleven: Talking About Progress
Giving feedback can be a challenge for any new leader. Heck, even seasoned leaders often dread writing and issuing those annual reviews. What's the reason for all of the angst? When we are not the ones who normally interact with the individual being reviewed, we lack the real, intelligent facts that are needed for the review to be meaningful and substantive. In my first few months of working at Universal Orlando, I recall being assigned a number of reviews for Team Members with whom I had never worked. It was an awful experience. How are you supposed to give someone feedback if you've never even worked with them? The preferred scenario is one in which there are no surprises and the individual receiving their review knows that their observed actions over the past year are being acknowledged and rewarded.
The art of giving feedback to your team can be incredibly challenging--after all, we all have areas of opportunity on which we can improve. Likewise, we all hope to be doing at least some of our job correctly and so when leaders acknowledge these areas, we appreciate it as well. Therefore, it's important to strike the right balance. But getting NO feedback at all can be incredibly demotivating to the individual.
The Eleventh Element is measured by the question "In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress." When Gallup dug deeper with respect to this element, the uncovered something interesting:
"For all the complexity of performance appraisals -- the balanced scorecards, the 360-degree feedback, the self-evaluations and forced grading systems -- the statement that shows the best connection between perceptions of evaluations and actual employee performance is remarkably simple: 'In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.' The statement does not specify that the discussion is an official review, but an appraisal can be one ingredient in creating the requisite feedback. The two are related, but not synonymous." 
So, in essence, all that leaders really need to do with their team members is to have regular, informal discussions about progress. Leaders simply need to be plugged in and to understand how to communicate effectively. The better dialed-in and engaged that leaders are with respect to the individual's performance on a consistent basis and the better that these leaders are at communicating their observations, the more effective the feedback.
Element Twelve: Opportunities to Learn and Grow
On a snowy Paris evening in 2008, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had trouble hailing a cab. So they came up with a simple idea-tap a button, get a ride. And with that simple, innovative thought, Uber was born. What an amazing blend of innovation and technology!
Of all of the fun and clever catch-phrases I've heard in my life (and now, seemingly every day on Facebook), I like Think Outside of the Box the best. The idea of individuals being challenged to think differently, to invent, and to innovate is truly an American story. Imagine a world without the lightbulb, airplanes, or the personal computer. By challenging our people to become the best version of themselves, we can change the world--and it all starts with an investment in the growth and development of people.
Over time, an increasing number of organizations are doing just that--investing in their people. At the Walt Disney Company, Disney University has become the global training program for Disney Cast Members. It is a place where Disney can publicly share their renown philosophy and culture. With a vast library of online and instructor-led content, The Walt Disney Company is an excellent example of an organization that is committed to the growth and development of their people.
You don't have to be Disney to be effective at developing and grooming your people for growth. As leaders, we must take on the role of mentor, advisor, and teacher. Through regular one-on-one conversations, leaders work with the individual to identify where their passion lies, how they can help, and the programs and services that can best meet the needs of their growth and development plan.
"When employees feel like they are learning and growing, they work harder and more efficiently. This element, while linked to nearly every important outcome Gallup has studied, has a particularly strong connection to customer engagement and profitability. On average, business units in the top quartile on the Twelfth Element surpass their bottom-quartile counterparts by 9% on customer engagement and loyalty measures and by 10% on profitability. These superior customer relationships and profits may occur because employees who are learning and genuinely interested in their work have better ideas -- which is another demonstrated correlation to the Twelfth Element." 
 Wagner, Rodd, and James Harter. "The Tenth Element of Great Managing." Gallup.com. Gallup. Web. 01 Apr. 2016. http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/104197/tenth-element-great-managing.aspx
 Wagner, Rodd, and James Harter. "The Eleventh Element of Great Managing." Gallup.com. Gallup. Web. 01 Apr. 2016. http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/104644/eleventh-element-great-managing.aspx
 Wagner, Rodd, and James Harter. "The Twelfth Element of Great Managing." Gallup.com. Gallup. Web. 01 Apr. 2016. http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/105838/twelfth-element-great-managing.aspx
"If you look at history, innovation doesn't come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect."
- Steven Johnson