I have written many times on trust. Two post give more details - Working Trusting Relationships and New Leadership Position – You’re Up! As employees we all want a trusting working environment. As managers it is one of our responsibilities to insure that we develop a trusting environment. Then why is it that 82% of people don’t trust their boss? When I was working with an organization recently, it became very apparent that one area that needed focus was developing a better, more trusting work environment. If you spent some reflection time on the working environment you work at – is it a trusting environment? Are people worried about what others are saying? Decisions taking forever to get made? Back stabbing happening? There is no shortage of examples of what we don’t want…
What does it take for you to do to make your work environment be more trusting?
- Assume best intent (until proven otherwise). You want to build that culture of trust, then no one, especially the manager, should not assume the worst in a person or situation. Remember that jumping to conclusion kills trust.
- Remove barriers. One of my favorite items that help to bring trust back is to spend time working on removing barriers, like removing bureaucracy. Jumping through hoops to get work done, erodes trust very quickly. Make work easy, remove the red tape and watch things change quickly.
- Act as an example of trust. If you want to improve the culture of trust, you have to trust your team to do their work and make decisions. That means even if that decision that was made did not go well. You still have to trust the decision and tell your employees so. After a decision has gone wrong, I usually sit down and we revisit the situation and possible decisions – and then let the employee learn from it… This should make the next decision point better.
- There is no “I” in team. Other words like “we” and “they” should never describe the teams. Listen to how the team talks. If you hear those words or the “us against them,” time to step in and course correct. For the English majors, take out those pronouns and insist that names are used.
Building a trusting culture is difficult. As the manager, you are the key to much of the success of building that environment. People inherently don’t trust the boss… If you can demonstrate and live up to being a trusting manager, you can get your team to follow along. It starts with you!
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With experience or being around a long time, you get to see lots of programs come and go. One of those programs that seem to change frequently are incentive programs. Wikipedia puts, “an incentive program as a formal scheme used to promote or encourage specific actions or behavior by a specific group of people during a defined period of time. Incentive programs are particularly used in business management to motivate employees, and in sales to attract and retain customers.” Can you think of some? I know quite a few (well, lots). It is one of those tools to help the organization to instill a continuous improvement in performance. Think back on those programs, did they work? How did they make you feel?
When I look over the many incentive programs that I have experience with there are some common themes of those that have been successful.
- The incentive program was well thought out. Answering the questions of what behavior are we going to reward. That behavior has to be above the expectation of all employees. Going after the top of the class. Hopefully inspiring others to what to reach the top.
- The program awarded past performance. The program has a timeframe that is long enough to help develop a better picture of a sustained performance.
- The reward is timely, specific and impactful. What is the award that is given? Debate around money, plaques, pat on the back and public recognition need to be considered before implementation. Setting the award will be critical in how well the program is received by the employees.
Let’s face it, this is a touchy area that managers have to navigate carefully. I have seen many a program start off with the best intentions, but fail shortly after implementation. Why? The list is long. The critical ones that pop up quickly are the incentive program is not focused on top performance. Many programs are focused on getting “all” to do what their expectations are normally (attendance). Some programs are set up that the employees can work the system to be eligible for. This has a huge effect on the employee base, as they will “see” the gaming going on and the program could demotivate many folks. Lastly, the award has to be meaningful. Some expects say that money should not be a motivator, that just the recognition should be enough.
Over the last couple of years, I am seeing some new incentive programs that will be interesting to see how well they will work. Those are the incentive programs for lowering health insurance costs. Those particular incentives to be healthy. Helping add money to the flex spending accounts for employees that are not overweight. For employees that attend health seminars or complete a company sponsored information session. There are many examples. With the raising cost of health care, these incentive programs are popping up everywhere. Is it too early to tell if they are working? Are they fair? Time will tell.. I know for me, I got healthier by increasing my exercise and diet, so that I could get some additional funds to help offset my health care costs.
Do you think incentive programs work? As a manager, I know I spent more time dealing with the incentive program than maybe the organization planned. Please share the good, bad and ugly…
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, New To Management
, Leading Teams
, performance management
, team dynamics
There are many things that I have learned over the years that I have shared here and one on one. The one item that everyone always agrees on is if you measure it, it will get attention and get done. I was helping out an organization the other day and we were discussing that fact on some employee feedback that they received. The leadership team was struggling with the all of their measurable matrix were not to goal. Employee feedback were pointing that the goals are unrealistic. For me, the underlying problem that they were trying to address was the employee base felt like their was a disconnect between the workers and management. How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said that?
Throughout my career I have encountered that same feeling of disconnect. It was either with me and my upper management. Or the feedback was coming from my team to me. It happens to the best of us. There are times that everyone is too busy to be paying attention to the little things that really matter. Whatever the excuse is. All you need to do is listen and act. When I am faced with connecting (or reconnecting), I remind myself of those little items that matter.
My list of items that matter! My 3 S’s if you will.
- Stand up and own your mistakes. There are times that you will make a mistake. I have yet to meet that perfect person that has not made a mistake. How you react to the mistake will either have you lose credibility with your team or win them over. Yes, it takes a strong person to admit to their mistakes. Being vulnerable will make you strong.
- Share your time. I know we all think that we are busy. Your are their leader, you have to make your team a priority. Give of your time as much as possible. Time is what you make of it. I am not saying that you need to schedule “time” with your team. I am saying that you need to be approachable and available. Another term I liked to use is management by walking around. Get out of the office. Talk to you team (in the hall, their workstation, café, networking events and everywhere they are).
- Share your thoughts. Communication is key and sharing what you know (what you can) will go a long way to connecting to your team. Start a discussion or put out a topic that the team can really relate to. Once people start talking, they start connecting. Watching your team getting together and sharing will have a huge impact on the work.
When I first was leading my team, I was pretty good at getting amazing results. I wasn’t sure why? It took me sometime to understand that I was really connecting to them on a personal and team level. That connecting came easy to me. I wanted to connect, no matter what. It was just part of my DNA, so I just did it naturally. I really started to understand the workings, when I was given the opportunity to do something that I had no knowledge of. I was overwhelmed with learning the job and was a little slow on connecting to the team. I realized quickly, that I was not following my normal operating procedures. Reflecting back, made me hone in those 3 S’s…
, New To Management
, Leading Teams
, team dynamics
How many times have you been involved in team building exercises? When someone says we are going to do a team building activity, what are your first thoughts? For the most part, I bet everyone is thinking, here we go again… I have seen data that says about 65% or higher feel they are a waste of time and money. About 25% thought they are effective with the right exercise. For me, I lean towards team building activities can be effective if we put the right exercise with what the teams needs are…
You have to know what you want to accomplish, so that you can insure the right results. There are three major categories – see below.
- Recreational Team Building: Change the way people feel (to entertain, re-energize, socialize, teach and learn new skills)
- Educational Team Building: Change the way people feel and think (to gain awareness of needs, to add knowledge, to understand new ways to look at old or familiar concepts differently)
- Developmental Team Building: Change the way people feel, think, and behave (by increasing positive functional behavior, by improving interpersonal relationships)
We all know that there are struggles with team building. So, why do a lot of team building programs not work?
- Lack of reflection = this defeats awareness. Think back to your last team building exercise, do you all talk about what happened, what could have gone better, what you learned and how it can apply back at the office?
- The presence of resistance = if you go into the exercise with not wanting to do it - you are defeating intent. Going through the motions is not going to help you learn and grow.
- Roadblocks to moving forward = with any team building exercise, it all goes back to how everything applies back at the office. If there are roadblocks that exist to moving forward, you are not going to be successful.
Making team building effective is not easy. How can you make team building work for you.
- Spend time really evaluating your team for its level of teamwork and needs. Doing team building to put a check in your teams objectives is not going to work. If you can’t self assess your team, ask the team or ask your key customers what their impressions are.
- Pick the right activity for your assessment of what you want to work on.
- Set up the team with the what, who and why of team building… Make sure that your team is prepared to participate.
- Get someone to facilitate the activity. You should be in the activity with them, not looking over them.
- Reflect at the end.. Ask those open-ended questions, what happened, what could have been better, how does this apply back at the office and so on. Make sure to circle back on the what and why’s that you attempted to accomplish in the first place.
- Document and share the results. Always good to capture the reflections and share them with your team. Especially on those items that the team wants to take back to the office.
I have done a lot of team building over the years. Some where really good exercises with some really good results. Others were not so good. Team building should not be a “here we go again” first thought. Team building should be exciting and the team wants to do.
I have been going to the gym close to my house for about 3 years, only taking a break or two for hip replacement and knee surgery. I really enjoy going and getting the muscles fired up. It really gives me some pep for the rest of the day. This past week, I doing my workouts, I have been listening to the personal trainers and their clients interactions. Back when I first started at the gym, I decided to use a personal trainer to help me navigate what exercises I should do due to the injuries I have encountered over the years. I did not want to undo any of the work that the doctors have done! It was a great time. Since we are in less than two months of the new year, I thought why not send this week listening to what excuses clients told their trainers…
Here are a few of the excuses as told by the client to their personal trainer.
- I wish I could find a time that is more convenient for me. Everyone is busy. If you are going to the gym to get in shape, lose weight or just keep fit – you have a reason and it should be priorities in with the list of all of those other time-consuming items. For me, it was getting up early and forcing myself to go in before work. My trainer was open to being an early riser as well. Time is what you make of it!
- It has been a two weeks. Why only 8 pounds? 8 pounds seems pretty good to me. I guess watching the folks on the Biggest Loser has folks setting some lofty expectations. The trainer was 8 lbs is better by 2 lbs than what we discussed at the beginning. Set realistic expectations!
- I don’t know what happened. I can’t image why I gained weight. Not sure why? The log that you were supposed to fill out was empty. Maybe if you did the work that was required of you, you probably would understand why. Do the work!
- I only cheated a little bit. You said to celebrate my milestone. This one was pretty good. I overheard the celebration and believe me, I don’t think the trainer said for an evening of pizza, beer and ice cream was the ticket. Celebrate success, but do it within reason.
- You just don’t understand me. I am fat and I can not do this stuff. Getting frustrated and providing excuses is a why of life. If you want to turn your situation around, then you have to be the one to do that. A personal trainer is there to help facilitate that change within the gym and eating habits. Helping to motivate you to get to “your” goals. Take the necessary steps, yourself. Use the help that is being provided.
- I can’t do it! Can’t means you don’t want to try. Give it a go, you may not be great at first, but you wanted be great without trying.
When I look at this list, I see the same things that when I was managing people, I used to get from time to time. The same advice I applied to those situations can easily be applied to just about everything in life. Set realistic expectations, make time, do the work, celebrate wins within reason, “you” control the effort and never say “can’t”.
Category: New To Management