Tag: development

Are you an engaged employee?

I was at an internal communications conference recently and we were discussing the 8 factors that drive employee engagement. If you get these 8 things right, then employees feel engaged which leads to increased profitability (see another blog post on this here).

I thought I’d share my take on what these factors mean to me personally. So if I was to describe a ‘great’ place to work where staff were highly engaged, it would look like this:

1. Leadership

To me leadership is about: demonstrating mutual trust and respect, being visionary, articulating your vision to your teams and empowering them to achieve it, being personally enigmatic and an excellent communicator.

Leadership should be encouraged at all levels of an organisation. You don’t have to be the Chief Executive to be a leader. Being visionary is important and relevant even on small campaigns or projects.

2. Manager

A good manager in my mind: nurtures talent, provides direction, empowers their team, is flexible and understanding, fosters the right environment for teams to be effective and draws out the best in people.

3. Company vision

Having a clear, long term company vision can be so engaging because it gives staff an end-goal. It provides a common sense of purpose that allows you to focus on the things that are important and add value. It is the ‘glue’ that holds the business together.

4. Personal growth

Personal growth means different things to different people. To me it’s about understanding an individual’s ambitions, whether this is simply to be better at their current role or to climb the ladder and become the next CEO.

Development comes in many forms- courses, workshops, job shadowing, secondments, being allowed more responsibility…. It is interesting how personal growth is seen as more important to staff than pay and benefits.

5. Team

A good team is: supportive, productive, positive, pulling in the same direction, friendly and hard-working. A good team-mate backs you up and sticks to ‘the party line’.

6. Giving something back

I’m told this could be about having a chosen charity to support or a company volunteering scheme but to me it’s about making a difference to my customers. It’s going ‘above and beyond’ what is expected for my salary and providing a better-than-expected service.

7. Fair deal

Being paid fairly for the job you’re doing and receiving fair benefits is only the 7th most important factor rated by employees on the scale of engagement. Getting a pay rise might motivate you but this will only last a short while, until you’ve become accustomed to the increase and it’s considered the norm.

I guess people want to be paid what their job seeking competitors are being paid, but more importantly what is fair WITHIN the company compared to their colleagues.

8. Wellbeing

Having a good work-life balance, working in a pleasant environment and being able to participate in out of work activities all contribute to wellbeing. I know of businesses that provide massages for staff or have snooker tables in the canteen. To be honest this isn’t something I am particularly interested in. For me it’s about being able to do my job to my best ability, and being able to forget about it when I go home.

Wellbeing is a very personal measure which perhaps surprisingly is the least important factor in whether staff feel engaged or not.

Are you an engaged employee? Are these factors important to you, are they in the right order or is there anything missing? Leave a comment.

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How do you nurture talent?

Flower with water droplets on
Nurturing talent is like watching the petals open on a flower
Image by Kprateek88 via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve recently seen a couple of people from past jobs flourish in roles in new organisations. In fact one of them is writing a blog on his new company’s website, where his previous role would never have allowed for this.

It got me thinking about why these people felt they needed to leave their jobs. Of course, everyone leaves their employer at some point and lots of factors influence that such as your team, the company culture, your day to day tasks etc. But a big factor is whether you feel you can develop in your position and if it’s moving your career in the right direction.

So as a manager I began to explore how you could nurture the talent you’ve already got in your team, so that they don’t feel they need to leave (yet) and you’re not left with a recruitment problem. These are my thoughts:

Ask the individuals in your team what their career goals are

If you don’t know their desired path, how can you support their journey?

Flex where possible

If you’re able to adapt team roles and you can explore the possibility of flexing boundaries, then this added level of responsibility or a newly required level of skill, can be the added ‘push’ your team members need to lift them up to the next stage in their career.

Provide as many opportunities for development as you can

Ambitious individuals, and even those who aren’t ‘ambitious’ but need a change, will relish the opportunity to try new things, work on different projects or work in a different environment. If you can’t provide the exact types of experiences they’re looking for, can you arrange a secondment or work shadowing opportunity within the wider business?

If you’re serious about nurturing talent then you’ll agree that it’s better to keep a good team member within the company but perhaps in a different team, then to lose them elsewhere altogether.

Encourage a learning process

Writing a career plan and setting short and long term targets can help focus the mind. If you’re providing additional experiences and flexing the role, it can be a good idea for this to be captured in a ‘lessons’ document or an informal diary.

Give feedback and get feedback from them

Nurture is about giving constructive feedback and encouraging this as a multi-way process. Giving and receiving feedback ties back to looking at this as a learning experience- it’s what the individual does with the feedback they receive that will determine whether their raw talent is developed or not.

Review their goals with them and help set new ones

Nurturing your team is a long term investment and career goals may change over time. It’s important to keep focussed on what is desired so it can be achieved.

Accept that when the time is right it’s OK for them to move on

In my opinion, the best thing to do is to support your team when they’re ready to leave, so they’ll do so feeling happy.

What’s your experience of nurturing talent? 

Are you the person that turns on the lights?

Like so many people, I work in an open-plan office. On some mornings I’m one of the first people in. This has been the case where I work for many months now but it still amazes me that sometimes I’ll be say the 8th person there, and the lights will still be off when I walk through the door!

So quite often, I turn them on…

I usually ask for agreement, but it’s in a quiet, shy, “Is it okay if I possibly turn the lights on if it doesn’t upset anyone”? kind of way.

But this is silly. It’s quite normal to have the lights on at work! So why do I feel I’m doing something “different”, something “wrong”?!

I guess it’s because if a floor of people collectively accept a certain behaviour, like starting the day in the dark, then I feel that this is what’s ‘normal’ and I question who I am to challenge this behaviour.

But if I didn’t come in and turn the lights on, new-guy Andy or shy Victoria would carry on being forced to stumble through in the dark. And poor old me would struggle to see the letters on my keyboard!

Sometimes we need people who can ‘turn on the lights’. People who can spin a situation on its head and present it differently, who can see a positive experience in a negative. We need people who can pick at problems until they’re solved and spur others to change their ways of working for the better.

So are you someone that switches the lights on? Or someone that leaves them off?

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Do you turn on the lights?