Item 3: "At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day."
Full human potential is realised only when people are in a position to use their talents and strengths. Great performance is found when an individual's natural talents fit his or her role. Matching the right person with the right job is probably the most significant challenge organisations and managers face today.
Putting people in the roles that best fit who they are is one of the 12 key discoveries. The research found that the best measure of the degree to which employees feel that their talents are being used in their jobs is their level of agreement with the Item 3 statement above. Having an opportunity to "do what I do best every day" is tied to the integration of a person's talents (recurring patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours), skills (what he or she knows how to do), and knowledge (what he or she knows). Talents are those patterns that one cannot turn on and off at will. Great managers realise that, while talents are the differentiating factor in excellent performance, they are also neither created nor altered. In contrast, one's skill sets and knowledge can be impacted and altered.
The best managers see the specific talents needed for every role. Conventional wisdom dictates that some roles are so easy, they don't require talent. Great managers rebuff this belief. The best front desk clerks in a hotel, for example, have a talent for "winning others over." They establish a trust relationship with people within the first 7 seconds of an interaction. Great telephone service and sales personnel are talented in having a "third ear" or the ability to connect visually and emotionally with people they talk to on the phone. Outstanding accountants see patterns in numbers and "hear" a message or story.
Excellence should be revered in every role. Often, we manage from the perspective that because we would not want a particular job or have the talent to perform it well, we must manage it as a job no one would want to do, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is, however, a false perspective. T he task of the best managers is to clearly define the talents needed for each role, and then choose the right person for that role. A manager's job is not to make people grow talents they do not have, but to identify and utilise existing talents to their fullest potential.
Item 4: "In the last 7 days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work."
Praise and recognition are essential building blocks of a great workplace. We all possess the need to be recognized as individuals and to feel a sense of accomplishment. There is nothing complicated about recognition, but it is one of the items that consistently receives the lowest ratings from employees.
Taking the time to recognize and praise good performance is one of the 12 key discoveries.
Historically, praise and recognition in the workplace has been handled from the perspective of "If you don't hear anything, assume you're doing a good job." In contrast to this "old industrial workplace" mindset, the new knowledge-based worker relies and depends upon praise and recognition as the means of defining what is valued by the organization. Today, praise and recognition are communication vehicles for what is deemed as important.
Obviously, recognition can be either positive or negative. Gallup has found, however, that positive and negative recognition are not opposites. Instead, the opposite of any kind of recognition is being ignored. The worst possible thing we can do to someone at work today is to ignore him or her! Workplaces that continue to abide by the old culture ("If you don't hear anything, . . . ") will destroy the very human spirit that makes the true difference in quality output and service delivery.
Although recognition can be either positive or negative, effective recognition has the following characteristics: it is positive in nature, immediate and real-time to performance, specific about what is being praised, and close to the action. Many organizations have formal recognition programs that seem to have limited effectiveness. This is probably because these programs do not always give employees a clear idea of what, exactly, is being recognized, i.e., profit, growth, and so on. There can also be times when credit is given where credit is not due, such as rewarding the weatherman for a bright and sunny day.
Positive recognition is often thought of as coming strictly from supervisors or managers, but Gallup has found that employees cherish praise and recognition from peers. Coworkers know intimately the particulars of a job and when they notice excellence, it is a special event. So, praise and recognition do not just come "from the top down" anymore!