Sunday, August 18, 2013

What Makes a Good Workplace? Part-4

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Item 5: "My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person."
Gallup's research indicates that employees don't leave companies, they leave managers and supervisors. The impact that a supervisor has in today's workplace can be either very valuable or very costly to the organization and the people who work there.

All of us as employees have had the unpleasant experience of having a bad supervisor or manager. Many of us have also experienced the results and benefits of a good one. When Gallup evaluates the difference between bad and good supervisors, it is amazing to see how clear the difference is in the minds of employees. Yet, when we ask employees, "Do you want to be managed?" everyone says "No." Why is this? Because we automatically think of our bad experiences. What if someone who is similar to the best supervisor one has had could manage the employee? Would he or she want to be managed in that case? Yes. So, the issue is really this: What makes a great manager?

Gallup finds that great managers and supervisors possess identifiable talents or recurring patterns of thought, feelings and behaviors. The talents of great managers include:

·         getting a true sense of satisfaction out of seeing their employees grow and succeed, even if the employee's success surpasses that of the manager
·         intrinsically knowing how to match the right person with the right roles to produce the best possible results
·         setting expectations by defining the desired outcome
·         not dissecting every role down to the exact steps needed to accomplish it
·         they help people grow within a role instead of grow out of it
·         they always try to bring out what God left in versus trying to put in what God left out.

Great supervisors genuinely care about the people they work with, and thus treat people according to their individuality rather than treating everyone the same. Supervisors are the filters from which broader organizational changes and initiatives make sense to individual employees and thus gain true acceptance and understanding.

One could speculate that people are not resistant to change; they just don't have the relationships to translate how such modifications will impact them and their jobs.
For years, Gallup has learned from surveys that the credibility of senior management is critical to employee perceptions of the organisation. This led them to consult with CEOs and leaders to encourage them to have greater visibility and clearer communications. Then, three years ago, they made a discovery: Employee perceptions of senior management credibility are largely driven by the quality of relationships employees have with their supervisors. Thus, rather than feeling the need for a town-hall meeting, the CEO should feel compelled to ensure that all employees have a caring relationship with their managers or designates.

Item 6: "There is someone at work who encourages my development."
The innate yearning to learn and grow is natural to human beings. Our jobs allow us to encounter new situations and find new ways to overcome challenges every day. Why, then, do we have a tendency to stall or stagnate?
Every employee should be consciously aware of how he or she is learning and growing.

Conventional management theory has always highlighted the need for employee development. The traditional approach largely involved helping employees to identify their weaknesses, and then creating a plan to correct them. By focusing on their weaknesses, so the reasoning went, employees would become stronger and more productive. While this approach seems to make sense, it has had a significant, unintended consequence: It has emphasized who the employee is not, rather than who the employee is. As a result, the common theme in the management-employee relationship has been a constant determination to change something.

Change can be good and an effective means to improvement, of course, when it encompasses something such as learning a new skill; in the conventional approach, however, management has often tried to change dispositional factors that are part of an employee's wiring or talent. An example of this would be an effort to help employees better manage their time. While there are many tools to aid in this effort, the way one manages his or her time is a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, and behavior-in other words, part of an employee's wiring-not something every employee can be "trained" to do better. Great managers make a clear, definite distinction between what can be trained in and what is already hard wired.

For the past 40 years, development has also meant "getting promoted." Today, it embodies the degree to which employees are growing within their current roles. Most employees want to be promoted, but not if it means doing a job that does not match their individual talents and skills. We have all witnessed the Peter Principle in action: when an employee who is accomplished at a particular job is promoted to supervisor. While this may work, the new position often requires a distinctly different set of talents-talents the promoted employee may not possess. So, in the end, the promotion significantly impacts the quality of life for both the individuals promoted and the people they supervise.

In today's workplace, the concept of "lifetime employment" is passé; the new emphasis is on "lifetime employability." Managers who want to encourage the lifetime employability of their direct reports help them equip themselves with self-understanding and a clear perspective on what roles they will excel in. To accomplish this goal, such managers pursue straightforward discussions with employees. In these discussions, they seek to understand employees' strengths,
talents, and skills, why they accepted a position with their employer in the first place, what keeps them there, what kind of relationships they need to be most productive, desired mode of recognition, and the yearnings and directions the employees wish to follow.

The best managers feel there is nothing very complicated about development. Development involves holding up a mirror to employees and encouraging them to know themselves. As employees come to understand who they are, these managers strive to provide responsibilities that will be a good "fit" for employees' talents. Then, as employees move forward in their self-knowledge, great managers persist in looking for opportunities to make the best use of employees' talents.

(Continued...)

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