Igniting Workplace Enthusiasm

"Team Member Engagement"

Newsletter May 29, 2014
Teamwork is a major factor in succeeding in the workplace. The ability to work successfully in groups is a key contributing factor in your success and the success of your organization. Even if you work in a one-man company, you still will have to work with clients and vendors.
Business life today means managing across generations
Much is made of management across generations. One of the hottest management topics right now is "How to Manage Generation Y." Although each generation has its special characteristics, there are more than a few universal management techniques that can be applied to employees of any generation.
A positive relationship with one’s manager
The Human Resource Development organization reports that in a recent Gallup survey of 400 companies, an employee’s relationship with his or her direct boss is more responsible for retention than pay or job perks. Fair and inspiring leadership, including coaching and mentoring, retains employees. Another Gallup survey revealed that a key indicator of employee satisfaction and productivity is an employee’s belief that the boss cares about them and can be trusted. These insights are supported by Dale Carnegie Training’s own research, which pointed out three key factors for engagement.  The relationship with the immediate supervisor, the belief in senior management and pride in the organization were triggers for engaging or disengaging the team.  So if you want better teamwork make sure your managers, particularly middle managers are pulling their weight.
Recognition and appreciation
Some people are driven more by other forms of incentives than by money. Herzberg’s research into motivation called salary and conditions "hygiene" factors – things that were expected as a given. 
In a study by Employee Retention Headquarters, appreciation and involvement are cited more than money as what keeps employees happy. They need to be convinced, verbally and nonverbally, that management respects their positions and that they are important to the success of their organization. In large organisations, the middle management have to work hard to show their team, that what they do matters, is important an that the organization appreciates the task being done well.
Generally, employees enjoy celebrating milestones and victories, publicly and privately, verbally and in writing, promptly and sincerely.
Japan however is a country often more suited to private praise rather than pubic approbation.  Standing out amongst one’s colleagues in this country can create fear about jealousy and criticism from those not recognized.  The phrase "the nail that sticks out gets hammered down" is not there by accident!
Stimulating and fulfilling work
In the 2003 October ASTD newsletter, Blessing White’s "State of the Career Report" suggests that for most workers today, stimulating and valuable work is more important than salary and advancement. It’s hard to put a price tag on enthusiasm and excitement for a job. People who foster involvement of employees and include them early on in projects obtain more creative ideas and create greater employee investment and pride in the outcome. Employees who actively participate in making decisions on a broad spectrum of issues help create an environment that they like and one in which they want to remain.  Dale Carnegie coined the phrase that we all "own the world we help to create" and this is where middle managers need to be less directive and more inclusive with their team.
A clear career path and growth opportunities
By providing opportunities for growth both personally and professionally, employees are less likely to look elsewhere. Providing training opportunities, with respect to new skill development and career development, is an indication that a manager is willing to invest on behalf of the employee. This is key to employee retention. Encouraging employees to join professional organizations by paying the membership fee and giving employees the time off and admission fees needed to attend lunches and conferences motivates employees. Organizations that have a high retention rate have a reputation for hiring from within. A jointly agreed upon career path (not necessarily "up" the hierarchy) will gain the commitment of employees and their buy-in for organizational goals and direction.
Managers who respect a balanced life
Organizations that promote a balanced life have higher retention than those that promote that the employee should eat, breathe, and sleep work. Acknowledging and respecting the importance of family and personal life prevents burnout and fosters loyalty. According to the Human Resource Development organization, employers need to be aware of quality of work life issues. They must be willing to offer flexible schedules and be sensitive to dual career, childcare, and parent care challenges.  In Japan, this has not been much of a consideration but with an aging population it will become more important.  The younger generation in Japan also have rather different views to their parents on what constitutes "quality of life" and having to hang around doing "make work" until the boss leaves is not attractive.
Competitive compensation and benefits
Money is important but it is less important than you might think. Employees expect to be paid fairly and competitively. They feel entitled to the standard benefits of health insurance and retirement plans.   In Japan, the situation is further complicated because the escalator system of promotion based on age and seniority is antithetical to merit based pay systems.  Therefore companies here have to look for other ways of motivating their team.

Few companies are able to draw on the full power of the knowledge, experience and motivation of their team.  These ideas, if implemented, will place your organization in the top echelon of successful companies, who have managed to fully engage their team.


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