Tired of lethargy? Let employees have input

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In most areas of the economy, the first quarter came to a close with a crash and a crunch. Business as usual this surely ain’t. Projections for the 2nd quarter look equally gloomy, the corporation just issued you a new cash-flow challenge and the employees are doing the professional version of duck-and-cover. Better crank up the happy-talk machine, right?


Wrong. When the going gets tough, the savvy leader turns to the organization’s greatest asset: its employees.
Leaders don’t let their team members get mired in a funk of doom and gloom. Good leaders find ways to keep employees focused on the path forward and find ways to involve everyone so that they feel like they have an opportunity to shoot for success.


Here are a few ideas on getting input:


Minimize email. Email is an effective and efficient way to communicate data and information, but it’s not great at conveying emotion and passion. Face-to-face and voice-to-voice conversations are better for motivating people through tough times. Managers and supervisors must step up as active communicators. 


Invest in managers’ communication skills: Building on the point above, managers need tools and support to improve how and what they communicate. Building their skills will improve their confidence as well as competence, and allow them to play a more effective role – a role that Dulye & Co. research shows employees want them to play.  Task them to lead regular team “huddles” with employees so that issues and concerns can be raised and openly discussed. As part of an overall communications process, huddles can be a key element in driving dialogue and identifying improvement opportunities.


Agenda, agenda, agenda. Don’t have one more meeting without an agenda. Agendas serve to keep meetings on track to ensure that the organization gets the biggest bang for the buck. Put your meetings on steroids. Get ideas from your employees on discussion topics and include them in the agenda. Better yet, set aside time at the end of the meeting for a discussion about the agenda for the next meeting. At least 24-hours before the next meeting, distribute the agenda to all participants. That way, they can come prepared to discuss the issues at hand. Minutes are also a good meeting tool. Ask for a volunteer minute-taker. Rotate the responsibility for each meeting.  Developing a meeting agenda is a great way to get your team involved and motivated.


Leverage quarterly meetings. Chances are your organization will have a quarterly meeting hosted by a senior leader. It will be complete with a stack of charts, seats way too close together and a sound system that fluctuates between silence and ear-shattering feedback. While those things are predictable, what’s likely missing from your quarterly meeting is an opportunity for employees to provide feedback. Be sure to set time aside at the end of prepared comments for the business leader to take questions. Further, develop a survey with quantitative and qualitative questions so that employees can tell you what they liked about the meeting, what they didn’t like, and what they’d like to hear about next time. Oh, and agendas apply here as well. Distribute agendas a week in advance of the meeting so people will know what to expect and what will be discussed.

 
Delegate responsibility. Staying with the topic of quarterly meetings, we helped one Dulye & Co. client turn over the quarterly meeting process to the employees themselves! Tired of hyper-critical comments, the management team turned the meeting over to a cross-functional group of employees. They were responsible for redesigning the meeting space, identifying discussion topics, gathering the information from the presenters, acting as the hosts for the meeting – including giving the “hook” to anyone on the senior leadership team who missed their allotted time – as well as gathering and reporting feedback. Result? Attendance up; complaints down; employees felt valued and involved.
We always hear organizations tout their employees as their “most-valued asset.” But are they really treated that way? Front-line employees are your organization’s in-house experts. When you tap into that resource, amazing things can happen.

We’d like to make your organization our next success story. Contact us for a free consultation on making yours a Spectator-Free Workplace.

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