The Pros and Cons of Employee Empowerment

Research published in the 2011 Journal of Applied Psychology (Antecedents and consequences of psychological and team empowerment: a meta-analytical review – Siebert, S.E.; Wang, G.; Courtright, S.H.) provided a number of pressing reasons for organizations to encourage employee empowerment. However, as with any organizational strategy, there are both pros and cons of employee empowerment.

By understanding that there are two sides of the coin when instigating an employee empowerment strategy, an organization will be better positioned to maximize the advantages and minimize any disadvantages.

What is employee empowerment?

For an organization operating in the fast-paced, modern business environment, passing some responsibilities to employees enables quicker decision-making at a lower level. At lower levels, people generally have a closer and deeper understanding of many of the basic processes and procedures that ‘get the job done’ and help the strategic vision of the organization to be achieved. It would appear to make sense, therefore, to give people more autonomy in their decision-making: in a word, empowerment.

Empowerment is viewed by seven in 10 employees as an important element of engagement, and employee engagement produces a range of benefits, including:

Because employee empowerment is so highly connected with employee engagement, it is little surprise that many of the advantages of empowerment are directly related to the benefits of employee engagement.

The advantages of employee empowerment

There are several definite advantages of embedding a strategy and culture of employee empowerment. These include:

·       Faster problem solving

First, because empowered employees are so close to issues and problems that require resolution, response times should decrease. Faced with a problem, people who are close to it have a natural affinity for it and a definitive reason to find solutions rapidly – it aids their work, making their time easier and more productive.

Executives are often detached from the shop floor, and lack the depth of knowledge required in the solution-finding process.

·       Increased morale and productivity

People who are given the autonomy to make their own decisions feel trusted and that their contributions are a direct factor in their company’s success. This is a direct determinant of employee morale. For example, 91% of Google’s employees say that they carry meaningful responsibilities within the organization: for six years running Google has been ranked by Fortune as the best company to work for.

Empowered employees working without continual oversight from a manager or supervisor tend to feel more respected. Artificial obstacles to progress of tasks are removed when employees no longer need their supervisor’s approval to move from one stage to the next. This helps productivity, and profitability per employee improves accordingly.

Additionally, people own the responsibility given to them, and the manager/employee relationship benefits accordingly.

·       Greater involvement leads to greater commitment

With the greater involvement engendered by their increased responsibility, employees become more involved in organizational strategy. They begin to look at colleagues and customers differently, and their commitment to the company and its future grows. Satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers. Such commitment also leads to decreased staff turnover and reduced costs of hiring and training.

·       Lower levels of management stress

When employees are empowered with responsibility, managers become freed to concentrate on strategy and the bigger picture. Instead of becoming enmeshed with day-to-day decision-making, managers can concentrate on strategic objectives, project planning, professional development, and customer-centric activities.

Empowering employees invigorates leadership by removing the stress of day-to-day management responsibilities.

·       Improved staff retention

Empowerment leads to greater satisfaction in the workplace. The 2013 empirical study ‘Employee Empowerment and Job Satisfaction in the U.S. Federal Bureaucracy: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective’ found that empowerment practices (such as information sharing, access to job-related knowledge and skills, and discretion to change working practice) have a positive and sizeable effect on job satisfaction.

In a study of 19,700 exit interviews, the Saratoga Institute found that job dissatisfaction factors were among the top seven factors for people searching for a new job.

Clearly, people who are more satisfied at work are less likely to want to change jobs – and improving staff retention has an immediate and sizeable impact on the bottom line. The Society for Human Resource Management has calculated that replacing a member of staff costs an average of between six to nine month’s salary in recruitment and training costs. For an employee on a $50,000 salary, this is between $25,000 and $37,500.

According to the Work Institute, more than 41 million employees voluntarily left their jobs in 2018. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculating average salary as $48,672, poor staff retention is costing the U.S. economy an incredible $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion per year.

The disadvantages of employee empowerment

·       Lack of experience increases risk

While the handing down of responsibility promises to improve speed, agility and productivity, a concern is that decisions are now being made by less experienced and less expert personnel. This can increase the number of mistakes made and put reputation at risk.

The risk of work practices falling into chaos must be tackled by proper training, and by ensuring that supervisors maintain organizational standards. These standards must incorporate an organization’s values and beliefs: care must be taken that employees do not work in accordance with individual values that may be divergent to the corporate mission and vision.

·       Potential for decreased efficiency

When people are given the autonomy to make their own decisions, those decisions cease to be uniform. This lack of coordination can lead to problems down the line.

It is also the case that autonomous employees may decide to work slower on days when they feel distracted or lack the energy to forge ahead. Where some workers are performing more productively than others, without being rewarded for doing so, internal friction can increase. If not dealt with, this can cause confrontation or a spiral to the bottom as all workers decide to work at the pace of the slowest and least productive team member.

·       Blurred relationships

Empowerment inevitably leads to a flatter, more streamlined management structure. The risk here is that professional relationships become blurred, and boundaries of authority become broken. This might require greater control over employees, not less.

Accountability issues may arise, leading to a blame culture that, if left unchecked, will lead to further discontent and an environment of mistrust. In such a situation, it is likely that employees will decide to take less responsibility for fear of repercussions should things go wrong.

·       Poor decision-making

If a team lacks the individuals with skills commensurate to the project, tasks and work required, decision-making will be poorer. This will be to the detriment of the organization, as poor solutions lead to decreasing productivity and internal conflict.

How can you improve employee empowerment?

Empowering employees is a cultural issue. Organisations that promote an environment of trust, clear communication, delegation and accountability tend to be good at employee empowerment. Here are five key practices that will help your managers and leaders empower their employees.

1.     Share your organization’s vision

Clear communication of vision is central to embedding a sense of ownership in your workforce. People who understand the vision and how their work contributes to achieving that vision are more likely to feel a part of something rather than just another number on the staff rota.

2.     Share more responsibility

Delegating responsibility for work that is designed to improve the capabilities of your employees helps them develop professionally. This will strengthen your team’s ability to work autonomously and lead to lesser need for direct management.

3.     Stop micromanaging

People become stifled in their work when they are micromanaged. Instead of managing tasks, delegate the responsibility for them, setting expectations clearly and providing guidance on responsibility. Decisions will be made autonomously but in line with organizational needs.

4.     Be open to input

Especially when engaging people in transformational change, being open to ideas and involving people in decision-making helps to empower employees and bring out innovative thinking.

5.     Be constructive and recognize good performance

Ensure that you recognize people for their effort and good performance, providing positive and constructive feedback to aid continuous improvement. It’s important to be specific when giving feedback and to highlight how positive behaviors have had a positive impact on colleagues. Positive feedback and recognition encourage people to be more creative problem solvers.

The bottom line

Weighing up the pros and cons of employee empowerment, the potential benefits to individuals, teams and the organization are clear and tangible. The potential drawbacks can be controlled by good management techniques, including:

Within a culture of employee empowerment, organizations will develop higher-performing teams that think for themselves, developing innovative solutions as they work toward shared goals – and not a robotic workforce consisting of people who do what their managers tell them and now more.

Emotional intelligence among leaders is also associated with the ability to embed a more empowered workforce, helping people to take the initiative and evaluate their own performance.

In short, if an empowerment strategy is well managed, your people will become partners in your success. They will become a transformative force that will jumpstart change and ensure the goals of your strategic vision are accomplished.

In our next article, we’ll examine the path to employee empowerment in more detail.

Complete this short Employee Experience Assessment to help identify the key areas you need to focus on as a company.

7 Strategies for Overcoming Resistance to Change in the Workplace

Organizational transformation is difficult

In today’s world, change is the only constant that surrounds us. In business, it’s no different. For employees, this can be difficult to manage and upsetting. When striving for a successful transformation we must consider the different perceptions of those initiating change, implementing it, and being impacted by it.

In this article, you’ll learn techniques to manage resistance to change more effectively. We explore the types of change, discuss what makes people react the way they do to transformational efforts, and describe strategic and tactical approaches to overcoming resistance to change in the workplace.

Creating collaborative teams with collective goals

A short while ago I discussed the challenges and attributes of high-performing teams. In modern organizations with flatter hierarchical structures, these high-impact teams are smaller, more agile, and themselves structured to benefit from individual specialization without regard for a ‘pecking order’. Even though these teams are designed to provide maximum flexibility in a constantly changing environment, it is likely that an organization will still experience resistance to change.

Overcoming resistance to change in the workplace doesn’t have to be a constant battle in a market environment where businesses are in constant flux. With a forward-looking and proactive strategy, resistance is first reduced and then eliminated.

Types of change: operational change vs social change

There are two facets to organizational transformation. The first is operational (or technical) and the second is social. Understanding the difference between the two is critical to managing resistance to change in an organization.

Within the organizational context, operational change can be explained as what we do and how we do it. For example, in an auto manufacturer a production worker may use a manual spanner to fit wheels to an axle. If that worker is then given a technologically advanced tool to do the job, that change is operational. Instead of using his strength to tighten the nut on the bolt, the worker uses different skills. He must learn these skills, but the operation is the same – fixing the wheel to the axle.

In such transformation, you may also witness social change – the way the worker interacts with others and the relationships they have. It is this type of change that evokes the most severe resistance to change.

Let’s consider that the auto worker is asked to do things differently. This involves him learning a new skill. However, the reporting line and responsibility remain unchanged. The worker is responsible for his routine. He remains responsible for reporting issues. He continues to liaise with the department’s manager. The only thing that is really changing is that the worker must learn a new technical skill to do the job he has always done. This may cause some resistance to change among those who are unsure of their ability to develop new skills, but there is no resulting social change.

Now, let’s consider that the worker is not only required to do things differently but also must adhere to imposed working routines and has a new line of report – to a supervisor rather than the senior manager as before. This is a social change that completely alters the perspective of the worker.

Reasons for resistance to change

In their work on resistance to change theory, John P. Kotter and Leonard A. Schlesinger concluded that there are four common situations in which people’s resistance to change germinates and grows:

  1. Self-interest
  2. Misunderstanding and lack of trust
  3. Different evaluations
  4. Low tolerance for change

Using our example of change, we can see how different types of resistance to change develop.

1.     Self-interest

When someone believes they may lose something valuable as a result of the change, they are likely to resist the change. People focus on their own self-interests (every stakeholder has their own agenda) and not the best interests of the organization. Eventually this develops into group resistance to change.

In our example, the worker is losing his direct relationship with ‘the boss’. He feels that his voice is no longer heard, because of the new reporting line put in place. The worker will come up with reasons why the new way of doing things will not work, and small errors and any downtime will be blamed on the change.

2.     Misunderstanding and lack of trust

A lack of understanding about the implications of the change is also a driver of resistance to change. An existing lack of trust between the manager initiating change and the workers expected to implement it exacerbates this misunderstanding.

For example, if the auto worker believes that the new technology he is being asked to use will reduce the time it takes to do the job, he may believe that his job is threatened – or that he will lose overtime and experience a cut in earnings – no matter what the manager says. Trust is crucial when making organizational change.

3.     Different evaluations

This situation arises when people assess the impacts of transformation differently to their managers or others who initiate the change.

In our example, it may be that the manager initiating the change has access to information that the workers don’t have. The reorganization of reporting lines may be needed because of the need for closer collaboration with the engineering department. However, the workers on the shop floor view the change as another (unnecessary) layer of management and are suspicious that the supervisor’s real role is to micromanage the department as it prepares for redundancies.

4.     Low tolerance for change

Some people fear change because they worry that they cannot develop the skills and abilities needed. This is particularly true of projects that require rapid change – the bigger and faster the change, the harder it is for people to come to terms with.

In the book ‘The Planning of Change’, authors Warren G. Bennis, Kenneth D. Benne, and Robert Chin also discuss how personality affects individual ability to cope with change – a theme that also runs through Peter Drucker’s theories on management.

6 Strategies for overcoming resistance to change

When considering the strategies and techniques for reducing resistance to change, there are six broad areas in which organizations must operate.

1.     Communication and education

Common issues that cause resistance to change include fear of the unknown and a misunderstanding of why change is needed.

People will only accept change if they believe the risk of doing nothing is higher than the risk of changing direction. Similarly, if people don’t understand why change is needed, they will question why you are changing something that they believe works well.

Communication and education about the change should begin before it is initiated. This will help your people to rationalize the change, and ensure that individuals and teams receive adequate information to make positive judgements.

2.     Participation

A lack of belief that the organization can make effective change leads to resistance to change. Likewise, when people aren’t consulted and change is forced upon them, there is likely to be more resistance. This is especially the case if people believe their jobs will be at risk.

It is critical that the stakeholders and those implementing change are involved in its design. A collaborative effort will engage people in the change, and in the identification of potential issues and solutions. People are far less likely to resist change that they have helped to create.

Many studies have shown that participation has wide-ranging positive effects during periods of organizational change. For example, a 2011 study (Change Recipients’ Reactions to Organizational Change: a 60-Year Review of Quantitative Studies) found that participation reduces resistance to change and leads to positive effects such as change readiness and acceptance, a sense of competence, a sense of control and better trust. Participation will reduce the stress that snaps your people’s desire to change.

Another participative strategy is to employ socialization, putting people before practice and ensuring that shared values crush resistance to change.

3.     Support

Organizational transformation is usually accompanied by a change to routines, taking people out of (long-established) comfort zones. This may also lead to exhaustion, especially if the organization is subject to frequent change or business evolution.

Even if people appear to be accepting of change, it may be that they are simply resigned to it. They must be given the support needed to enable new skills to be developed and ensure that change burnout does not become a reality.

Support requires managers to develop their emotional intelligence and connect with their people. Offering adequate support is also time-consuming, requiring trained managers and leaders to employ coaching tactics to be most effective when managing change in an organization.

4.     Agreement

Resistance to change is also precipitated when people feel they will be negatively affected by its consequences. This may be because of a perception that their earnings or career potential will be harmed or that the rewards of the change are not worth the effort required.

To combat this type of resistance to change, an organization may consider offering incentives. Such incentives may include extra pay, improved benefits, or offering structured career plans. This strategy requires negotiation to reach agreement. The drawback is that such agreements can be expensive and do not guarantee engagement with change.

5.     Co-opting

People become connected to the way that things have always been done. There are often strong emotional connections to processes and procedures that employees may have been at least partly responsible for developing. To bond with the old may require a Herculean effort.

One strategy is to co-opt those who may be most resistant to change into central roles in the implementation of change initiatives. This can gain the support of would-be resistors relatively cheaply, though it does come with a caveat – placing people who are deemed to be resistant to change in such positions could give them a position from which to influence greater resistance across a wider audience.

6.     Coercion

Sometimes it is necessary to coerce people into accepting change. This is often the case where people feel they cannot learn the new skills needed or if they feel that change is a temporary fad that will be reversed.

Techniques for implementing change include wielding the threat of disciplinary action while insisting that people fall into line with required behaviors and actions. If speed of change is critical, coercion may be the only viable option.

A major drawback of this strategy is that it does not remove resistance to change, which may continue to bubble under the surface and result in a destructive atmosphere at a later date (particularly if the proposed transformation does not produce at least the outcomes promoted by the initiator of change).

7 Tactics to overcome resistance to change

Having identified the causes (or potential causes) of resistance to change in your workplace and the strategic approaches that your organization should take to overcome this resistance, the next step is to consider specific tactics and techniques for reducing resistance to change that your organization and its managers can utilize to eventually eliminate that resistance.

Leadership is an organizational imperative when managing change, and leaders who inspire a cultural shift in their staff have the greatest success in managing resistance to change in an organization.

In a 2013 PwC survey, nearly two-thirds of staff surveyed felt that a top leader is in charge of change management, and almost half felt that top leaders should be in charge of cultural change.

The good news here is that the same number of people felt that cultural change is also their responsibility.

The bad news is that only 14% saw any responsibility for change management falling on their shoulders. The harsh reality is that effective change is determined by having in place a corporate culture conducive to continual transformation. It is here that inspirational leadership in flat hierarchical structures is, perhaps, at its most potent.

Here are seven techniques for reducing resistance to change in the workplace and helping to embed engagement in your change process.

1.     Structure the team to maximize its potential

After communicating the change initiative, consider the strengths and weaknesses of each team member.

In one-to-one sessions, establish how the team member is best suited to aiding with the change initiative, and consider ways in which it may help the individual improve personal weaknesses while simultaneously taking advantage of their strengths.

Give team members appropriate roles and responsibilities that use skills to their best advantage, while also providing the potential for personal and team development. Such a personal collaboration within the team effort will help engage each team member in the change effort.

2.     Set challenging, achievable and engaging targets

Be clear in guidance about goals and targets. Break change projects into smaller milestones, and celebrate achievements. Goals should be progressive and in line with values and beliefs.

Don’t limit the creation of milestones and measurement of goal achievement to the overall effort. While these are important team milestones that will help to motivate the team to continue with maximum effort, it is also important that you consider individual progress. Seek ways to anchor personal development to the creation and continuation of team goals along the change journey.

3.     Resolve conflicts quickly and effectively

Utilize the seven methods of care-fronting to regulate and control communicative breakdowns. Encourage openness and honesty and engender an environment of mutual trust and respect.

It is imperative to engender a good team spirit, so you should consider ways in which you can do so. During periods of change, tensions may run high and personal anxieties will be heightened. Team meetings and team bonding sessions will help your people to understand and appreciate their colleagues more easily, especially if you ensure transparency of communication and a systematic approach to problem solving that encourages frank exchange of view to reach a collective and collaborative partnership.

4.     Show passion

Communicate passionately and be an example of belief in the future vision. When other people see leaders’ behaviors emulating those required by change, they more quickly come into line with the new behaviors and become change advocates themselves.

‘Where leaders tread, others follow’ is an apt edict for executives to live by. Only by being the change can you expect others to onboard the new values and behaviors expected.

5.     Be persuasive

Engage employees in change by being an energized leader. Focus on opportunities, and persuade rather than assert authority. Share experiences as you persuade change through stories that focus on positive change.

Train your storytelling brain to discover ways to explain culture, brand and the future vision with similes that help employees relate to organizational motives and goals.

6.     Empower innovation and creativity

Give opportunities for feedback and remain flexible as you alter course toward your change goals. Encourage people to be creative, to discover solutions to unfolding problems, and to become part of the change process.

Remove the fear of taking risks by framing failure as an experience from which to learn, and a necessary step on the path to success. Help people to be accountable for their own actions, while also encouraging collaboration across silos. This will aid pollination of innovative ideas in an environment in which people develop greater knowledge and expand their professional capacity to think more creatively.

7.     Remain positive and supportive

People find change unsettling, even though change is a constant in personal lives as well as professional environments. They will need the support of a positive leader who inspires free thought, honest communication and creativity, as personal and team development is encouraged.

Employees expect leaders to manage change. Inspirational leaders create a culture where change becomes the remit of all.

In Summary

Research has shown that resistance to change is a psychological and physiological reaction (“The Neuroscience of Leadership” by David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz). In short, you should expect resistance to change. Managing resistance to change requires you to first understand why people resist change, then identify the causes of their resistance, before considering your strategic approach and formulating the tactics and techniques for reducing resistance to change.

Equipping your leaders with a deeper understanding of the emotional effects of change is an essential first step. With better self-awareness and social awareness, leaders and managers are more able to inspire and influence through change – and develop a winning project change team.

Are You an Inclusive or Exclusive Leader?

Ways to motivate employees in the workplace by leading appropriately

Two overarching styles of leadership are inclusive and exclusive, and good leaders know when and how to employ each style as they seek ways to motivate employees in the workplace. However, when a leader’s unconscious bias leads to ineffective exclusive leadership, the results on individual employees, teams and the organization can be devastating.

In this article, you’ll learn the differences between exclusive and inclusive leadership and when you might decide to use each style. You’ll also learn how unconscious bias may be shaping your management decisions with unintended consequences.

What is exclusive leadership?

Exclusive leadership is autocratic in its nature, with the leader taking sole responsibility for decision making. While he or she may invite ideas and discussion, the final say is the word of the leader. In this style of leadership, the leader accepts full responsibility and accountability.

When examining ways to motivate employees in the workplace, exclusive leadership may not spring to mind. However, this style of leadership enables rapid decisions to be taken during periods of chaos or change. This said, autocratic leadership limits employee engagement and individual development during change, potentially increasing resistance to change and inhibiting the progress of a change project.

What is inclusive leadership?

Inclusive leadership encourages participation in decision making and problem solving. This democratic style allows employees to feel part of the problem-solving process. This feeling of being a part of something can aid employee motivation, and it aids inclusivity and diversity.

In an inclusive environment all employees feel accepted, irrespective of their cultural background. Leaders will employ an influencing strategy, providing coaching and mentorship as they encourage individuals and teams to embrace accountability. Essential leadership skills needed by inclusive leaders include:

Inclusive leaders will listen with focus, and they will speak openly and honestly. They will put people at ease, helping others to know that they are understood. They will be receptive to opinions and ideas, and seek to aid the personal development of their employees.

Inclusive leadership can motivate people to engage with collective goals and organizational vision, though it can also slow down decision making and the achievement of goals.

Exclusion by unconscious bias

The feeling of being excluded can leave an employee questioning his or her ability, value and self-worth. It causes disengagement at work, and dissatisfaction with the boss – a direct consequence of which is an increase in staff turnover. It follows that good leaders turn to autocratic methods only when needed. However, unconscious bias can lead to unintended exclusive behaviors.

We all have biases, and most of us have subconscious people preferences that align with our own interests, perceived knowledge and expertise, status, background and outlook.

When a leader chooses to act exclusively, he or she makes conscious decisions and controls their actions. When exclusion is because of unconscious bias, there is no control over these actions. Unless a leader is able to identify and resist unconscious bias, then the damaging effects of unintended exclusiveness will persist and could cause potentially irretrievable damage to individuals and teams.

How do you eliminate unconscious bias toward exclusive leadership?

Inclusive leadership is a style that motivates employees and encourages greater employee engagement. It is, therefore, a goal for most leaders, especially in today’s flatter organizational hierarchies. But if your leaders don’t know that they are being exclusive, how do you put them in control of their actions so that their leadership behavior is appropriate in all circumstances?

The answer is to help your leaders become more self-aware. By developing an understanding of their own values, actions and reactions, leaders will be better able to employ an unbiased, democratic style as they:

For further insight into how to develop your leaders and eliminate their unconscious bias, contact Primeast today. We’ll help you discover how our Management Development Series could help your managers and leaders become more emotionally intelligent and better influence performance.

Developing Leadership from Employee Value Propositions

Learning Organisational Leadership from Employee Value Proposition Examples

It’s no secret that energized employees perform at their peak, and employees who feel disengaged can be a destructive element that no employer wants. As part of engagement strategy, organizations are finding that a strong and sustainable employee value proposition is invaluable. Here I look at two different employee value proposition examples before describing the steps to creating an organizational environment that emulates the best employee value proposition examples.

Employee value proposition examples in action

An effective employee value proposition will act as a magnet to the best talent, and help retain them. If your company is finding it difficult to hire top people, or is losing its best people to competitors, it could be that you need to look inward and reassess your employee value proposition.

When TNT Express found itself losing out in the talent employment race, it did exactly this. It canvassed employees and asked why they felt disengaged. From these results senior management on-boarded middle management to align these employee wishes with the organization’s strategy, culture, and investment in human capital management. In its study, the factors identified as important to employees included:

Among almost all employee groups surveyed, compensation came some distance behind other factors identified as important. TNT referenced its developing employee value proposition to three of these elements that most aligned with its strategy. Prime of these was the quality of its leaders and the methods and depths of communication within the company.

Netflix created an open and inviting culture as its employee value proposition (EVP), as perhaps you would expect. It emphasizes that it values diversity in the workforce, and empowers employees with freedom and responsibility. It doesn’t have a vacation policy. Nor does it dictate on clothing, and its policy on expenses is simple: “Act in Netflix’s best interests.”

The company also encourages its people to consider the long-term view, with a strategy that engages employees in their own career development.

How can you profit from employee value proposition examples?

Excellent and sustainable employee value propositions do not come about by accident. Both TNT and Netflix took deliberate action to create a uniqueness of company brand that appeals to top talent and then retained them. Here are four steps to create your organization’s unique EVP:

1.     Think Strategically

Whether purposefully or not, your organization does have an EVP, even if it has not been formalized or strategized. In order to create a progressive EVP, think strategically and involve employees in discussions, as TNT did:

2.     Integrate the EVP strategy with leadership and rewards

With the EVP formalized, create a set of objectives to deliver on the promise of the EVP. The elements in the EVP will identify with employee competencies, human capital management practices, career path progression, and compensation.

3.     Communicate the EVP and deliver the internal brand

At this step, the EVP is fully aligned on a companywide basis, and it is now time for strong leadership to engage employees in an environment of mutual trust. It’s now time to discuss strategy in an open and transparent communication style, engaging employees in the process of creating and delivering an internal brand aimed at retaining top talent.

4.     Remain unique in the competitive marketplace

Even within organizations, different segments will have different needs and these can now be defined at micro-levels. Use this increased knowledge to be unique in the marketplace and gain an advantage over competitors.

To benefit from an EVP, take a page out of the TNT and Netflix books and:

Contact Primeast today to discuss our Management Development Series, including our Energy Leadership Program, which helps develop high-performing managers into inspirational leaders.

7 Traits Used by Leaders to Affirm Culture

Define cultural expectations to design leadership behavior

Wherever you go and whatever you do, there are unwritten codes that determine acceptable behaviors. You will dress differently when you attend a charity ball to the clothes you wear for a family barbecue. Depending on the situation and circumstances, you will act differently, too. Take the example of a family gathering again: acceptable behavior will be different at a funeral when compared to a wedding, even though the same people may be in attendance.

Social expectations extend to the world of work, and the unwritten code that determines acceptable behavior in the workplace is known as organizational culture.

If such expectations are unwritten, how do we convey them to our people? The answer lies within organizational behaviors, and displaying “how things are done around here”. If everyone arrives for work in a suit and tie, it doesn’t take long for a newcomer to understand that the company operates a formal dress code, even if it is not explicitly stated in the employee’s contract.

In this article, you’ll learn about the seven organizational culture characteristics that your leaders should embrace to determine how they inspire action from their people.

Organizational culture and the expectations of leadership

Organizational culture can be defined as the personality of an organization. It is its unique characteristics, enveloped in its values and beliefs, and the shared goals of its people. It defines how its people act internally and externally. There are seven distinct characteristics of organizational culture:

  1. Innovation
  2. Attention to detail
  3. Emphasis on results
  4. Emphasis on human capital
  5. Promotion of teamwork
  6. Competitive nature
  7. Stability

Every organization will value these characteristics differently. It is the combination of these values that gives an organization its unique culture. Employees will adjust their behaviors to match those that are expected of them via their perceptions of organizational culture.

How do people compose perceptions of acceptable behavior and organizational culture? By observing how others around them act. In this context, the way in which an organization’s leaders act has a significant influence on these perceptions. We see the evidence of this in behavioral leadership theory. It is therefore imperative that an organization ensures its leaders act to affirm the organizational culture, for their actions will directly influence the behaviors of its people.

How can your leaders affirm your organizational culture?

Leaders must act in line with organizational culture. They must perform how they expect their people to perform. To ensure your leaders inspire action in line with your organizational culture, you must ensure that they understand how your organization treats each characteristic of culture. You’ll need to define your organization’s approach to:

1.     Innovation

To what degree are employees encouraged to take risks, seek creative solutions, and be innovative in their roles?

2.     Attention to detail

Are employees expected to work precisely, and what are the metrics of attention to detail?

3.     Emphasis on results

Is your organization all about the results, or the journey to achieve them? What emphasis is placed on process versus outcome?

4.     Emphasis on human capital

What emphasis does your organization place on people’s wellbeing at work? Does it consider individual success and career progression as important corporate goals?

5.     Promotion of teamwork

How does your organization expect people to work in teams? Are all activities team-based, or are people expected to work autonomously?

6.     Competitive nature

Does your organization expect its people to be aggressively competitive in its markets, and internally? Or does it encourage a more easygoing and relaxed way of working?

7.     Stability

This is the degree to which your organization seeks to promote continuous change versus the emphasis it places on maintaining the status quo.

Once these seven cultural characteristics have been defined, you can coach your leaders to understand them and portray them in their own actions. By matching organizational culture with his or her own leadership traits, a leader will be the conduit that affirms organizational culture and inspires appropriate action of employees.

Contact Primeast today to discuss our Management Development Series, including our Energy Leadership Program, which helps develop high-performing managers into inspirational leaders.

7 Leadership Traits That Create Trust

Creating engaged employees by being engaging

There appears to be a backlash against all authority in the modern world. Governments and media have been roundly attacked, with the public rallying against ‘the establishment’. People simply don’t trust government and media to do the right thing.

If the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer is correct, business could be next in line to face the backlash caused by mistrust. Almost two-thirds of the 33,000 survey respondents said that CEOs are ‘not at all’ or ‘only somewhat’ credible.

In this article, I explore the trait approach to leadership by outlining seven key traits that create trust. 

The importance of trust in business

The most successful relationships are those founded on trust. When trust disappears, resistance to change in the workplace increases. Collaboration is replaced by corporate infighting. Confidence is replaced by uncertainty. Innovation is replaced by stagnation. Trust is central to business success and longevity.

By employing the 7 traits in thier approach to leadership, C-level executives will secure the trust of their employees. That’s good for morale, good for individual and team motivation, and good for the business. 

The following seven key leadership traits will help you to develop and maintain trust in the workplace:

1. Communicate effectively by listening first

The first rule of conscious communication is to listen well. Learn to listen to what is being said, both verbally and non-verbally. Discover what they consider to be the most important issues and concerns, and address them individually and collectively.

2. Show that you trust your people

Let go a little, or, better still, a lot. Show your people that you trust in their judgement and their capabilities by allowing them to hold the reins. Back them to perform. Encourage them to be creative. Help them to succeed in the challenges you set. If the going gets tough or they fail in a task, instead of criticising, help them to learn and improve.

3. Encourage transparency

Promote transparency in the workplace by sharing your ideas and values. Be enthusiastic to do so, and let your people know what it takes to succeed. Explain the future vision of the organization, and create an environment of engagement.

Be positive about yourself, the organization, its people, and opportunities for advancement. This energy will help to sustain dialogues, encourage innovation, and reduce staff turnover.

4. Be interested in your people

Your employees’ lives do not revolve around work. They have families, interests and hobbies that are of far greater importance. Show that you are genuinely interested in your employees as people, and that you understand that their home lives impact on work, and vice versa.

Support them in what they do outside of work. Be sympathetic to their personal situation. An hour of empathy can win you a lifetime of loyalty.

5. Be a career advancer

Show that you care about your employees’ professional lives as well as their personal lives by helping them to advance. Ask what they want, where they want to go, what type of work they feel they would be best suited to. Understand their motivations, and create a plan of action to help them achieve their personal goals. Meet and review progress regularly, and evolve the action plan to suit them.

6. Always do what you say you will

Nothing destroys trust more than going back on your word. Ensure you follow through on promises made. Of course, there may be times when circumstances change. If this is the case, communicate the change to your people, explain how and why plans have changed, and how this affects the delivery of your promise. They will understand. Whatever you do, don’t leave them in the dark.

7. Say “Thank you”

Show your people that you value their time and contribution. Say “Thank you”. Demonstrate your gratitude with a small gift – a meal at their favorite restaurant, a book by their favorite author, or a half-day holiday so they can watch their children in their first school play. You’re interested in your people and what makes them tick – what better way of showing your appreciation than a personalized thank you?

Contact Primeast today to discover how growing your emotional intelligence will provide the skills needed to inspire a fully empowered and engaged workforce.

7 Ways to Build Collaborative Leadership

More so today than at any other time in history, businesses that foster a collaborative environment are winning the race to competitive advantage. In fact, the evolution to a flatter, less hierarchical structure can be seen at all levels of society:

The benefits of a collaborative leadership approach

A more collaborative approach to leadership in the organizational environment has several advantages and benefits, including:

In an environment of collaborative leadership, organizational change is more easily affected and creates a more caring business. However, shifting to an organizational philosophy that benefits from all the advantages of the collaborative leadership approach takes time and effort. You may also find some resistance (some people may be resentful at the ‘delegation of leadership duties’). Collaborative leaders will need to be adept at conflict resolution (care-fronting instead of confronting, for example) to arrive at solutions acceptable to all.

What characteristics do collaborative leaders have in common?

In a study of 55 organizations, researchers identified five characteristics that all successful leaders enable:

1.     Leaders sponsor collaboration

It is crucial that leaders lead by example, supporting collaboration and making it a core value of the organization. Whatever the size of your organization, it is essential that your leaders generate a perception of collaboration from the top down, instilling it as a shared vision with benefits for all.

2.     Leaders and managers coach actively

The art of collaboration is to embed a culture in which knowledge and experience is shared. However, the study found that collaboration was higher in those organizations which had less formal mentorship and coaching programs. Where leaders and managers are active in establishing ongoing coaching and mentorship because it is something that they want to do rather than something that they must do, collaboration improves within teams and across the organization.

3.     Collaborative leaders build a community

When people feel connected, collaboration improves. Building a community within an organization requires deep thought and planning. It transcends all cultural elements, from leaders managing by example, to communication tools and practices, and even to how you design your building. For those organizations with a high number of remote workers, collaboration tools should enable people to meet at a ‘virtual water cooler’.

4.     Leaders are relationship- and task-oriented

Leaders must communicate tasks clearly, and when doing so they must clarify roles and responsibilities. The collaboration process starts here, by empowering people to discuss their roles and develop a joint approach to moving forward.

However, collaboration relies on relationships. Therefore, collaboration is inspired best by leaders who are good at developing and maintaining relationships with their people and creating the environment in which colleagues develop close working relationships.

5.     Roles are defined clearly, tasks are ambiguous

Although it sounds counterintuitive, the research found that people collaborate better when their roles are clearly defined and accompanied with task ambiguity. This engenders collaboration as understanding of the task improves and people work together to overcome challenges and create shared solutions.

Role clarity reduces friction, as people work together to complete tasks that need to be done.

Resetting your organization for collaborative leadership

Here are seven tips to build an environment that embodies these characteristics of collaborative leadership within your organization:

1.     Build a bridge of trust

Without trust, the collaborative leadership approach will fail. This is the first area in which the leader must lead. Trust is a two-way street, and people who are trusted tend to trust. Encourage your leaders to have trust in their people.

Even in globally remote organizations, leaders can develop trust. Communication is the key here, and it is essential that leaders understand:

Organisations must agree communication standards, such as acceptable communication methods and how meetings must be conducted, how conflicts will be resolved, and the decision-making process.

An effective way to kickstart the trust building process is to send a motivational email. An example of this is the email that Howard Shultz sent to all 190,000 Starbucks staff in response to a hefty fall in the stock market. He explained that the company’s plans would not be affected by the decline in the stock price, and cited reasons to be confident in the company’s future. He signed off, “I believe in you and have never been prouder to be your partner.

2.     Encourage the adoption of a shared purpose

There are many challenges that face leaders today, including the challenges of leading multigenerational organizations. Many of these challenges have their roots in the differences between generational values, which can develop into workplace relationship issues.

Leaders no longer lead by command and control. Instead they encourage the adoption of shared values and visions as a motivator of performance. The collaborative leader communicates the future vision through commitment to it. He or she is passionate about the organization’s values and mission and that passion permeates across a flatter organizational structure.

3.     Develop diversity

Collaborative leadership encourages everyone to participate in problem solving, and diverse teams produce more meaningful and long-lasting solutions to problems. The collaborative organization benefits from a range of views, skills, experience and ideas from people working toward the common goal.

However, developing diversity does not simply happen. Organisations must identify opportunities to improve diversity, and leaders and managers must encourage diverse workforces to collaborate effectively. Employing diversity icebreakers will help to develop understanding and encourage inclusivity.

Managers should also be coached to help their employees understand that colleagues from different cultures have different behaviors, thoughts, assumptions and values. These cultural characteristics are, of course, among the strengths of diverse teams – but they must be harnessed effectively.

(Read our article ‘6 Reasons Why Successful Change Hinges on Cultural Diversity’ for more insight into the power of workplace diversity.)

4.     Accept and encourage initiative

Leaders show initiative, and encouraging ownership of problems and their solutions is to encourage initiative. Accept that people should take calculated risks. Encourage creativity and self-improvement. People want to make their jobs as easy as possible. Accept that a degree of risk-taking is necessary to drive change for the better.

One area in which employees excel when initiative is encouraged is sales. When salespeople are allowed to act outside a rigid formula, you’ll find that they are better able to create a collaborative partnership with their customers. Instead of selling the features of the product, your salespeople will sell to beliefs, values, feelings and need. Trust will develop faster and grow stronger, and sales numbers will follow.

5.     Be information sharers, not information hoarders

Flatten the hierarchy by sharing information across all organizational functionalities. Involve people with information and you encourage ownership and collaboration. Your organization will become more adept at change and better at decision-making. Information is no longer power, but rather a tool of inspirational leadership. Share information and you build trust, openness and honesty.

6.     Create transparency in decision-making

Collaborative leadership requires the sharing of information and responsibility. This empowers an organization’s people to contribute to the decision-making process. Collaborative decision-making leads to commitment to implement discovered solutions. Less time is wasted in conflict management, and more energy is focused on understanding the challenges that influence the business. Transparency of decision-making leads to buy-in and acceptance of responsibility for effectiveness of solutions.

To educate and engage with their employees, leaders must include all team members in a joint effort toward a common goal. Key strategies to develop collaboration include transparency, compassionate communication, and building networks. Such strategies help to break down traditional organizational hierarchies and help develop the sense of the shared ownership that creates collaborative teams.

7.     Understand that conflict can be constructive

Diversity will inevitably lead to conflict. Create an environment where constructive conflict is accepted as part of the decision-making process. This conflict must be managed, and will then inevitably lead to greater insight as feedback is sought and given. Constructive conflict will aid creativity, innovation, and problem solving.

Collaborative leaders understand that people handle conflict in different ways. These conflict management techniques are:

The best of these approaches is collaboration, though it must be facilitated by the manager. Doing so successfully requires elevated emotional awareness – to know others (and gauge and manage response), you must first know yourself.

For details of the Forward Focus Management Development Series, contact us today and discover how collaborative leadership will drive your competitive advantage through the 21st century.

How to Create a Narrative That Resonates

7 steps to ensure storytelling inspires your organization to achieve its potential

As we’ve established in previous articles, and as is apparent within market-leading organizations around the world, leaders cannot simply order their people to be innovative, or motivated, or to love their jobs. Instead, the new leadership imperative is to embody an influencing style to engage employees. In this context, organizations are learning how to use narratives to inspire, set vision, define corporate culture, and encourage progress toward collective goals.

To unlock this potential, leaders must develop narrative skills. It’s not a competency that is included in the standard management degree.

In this article, you’ll learn how organizations and leaders can engage and influence their people by using storytelling.

Why does storytelling work as a leadership technique?

People respond to storytelling, provided it is executed effectively. Creating engaging narratives is an essential aid to overcome every leadership challenge. For example:

What makes a good narrative?

A narrative doesn’t just happen. It must be considered, shaped and refined before it can be used effectively. A story must be relevant to the intended audience, and:

Effective narratives will answer the questions of why, what, and how. Why are we here? What is our potential? How can we reach that potential?

Developing narrative skills to navigate storytelling roadblocks

There are two major roadblocks that stand in the way of leadership narratives. The first is having no stories to tell, and the second is not having the ability to tell them effectively. The following seven steps will help leaders to develop the narrative skills they require to tell effective stories and inspire their people to greatness.

1.    Gather stories

Listen for stories, observe situations, and pay attention to everything around you. Write down those events that can be used to teach.

2.    Set the story with context

Before telling your story, consider why the listener needs to hear it. What lesson do you want to impart, and how will it achieve that aim?

3.    Use the power of analogies

Explain the story or components of it by comparing to the current situation to clarify how it relates.

4.    Make a story resonate by pulling on emotions

People make decisions based mostly on emotion, only rationalizing that decision later. Stories appeal to listeners when they appeal to their emotional side.

5.    Make your story specific and brief

Don’t wander off the beaten track, adding subplots, inventing characters, etc. Keep it specific and to the point, and no longer than three or four minutes. This makes it more interesting and easier to remember.

6.    Trigger continued interest with surprise

A surprise or two along the way makes a story more memorable.

7.    Create a participative narrative

Use storytelling to encourage the building of experience. Is there a way in which you can shape your story into a coaching event, encouraging participation and learning by experience?

Lead your organization by leading its narrative

Some of the most successful companies in the world are actively coaching their leaders to inspire through storytelling. Microsoft have sent executives on to lectures about storytelling. Kimberly-Clark has a storytelling process which they impart to their leaders in a two-day seminar. 3M insist that presentations and business plans are made with ‘strategic narratives’. Increasingly, organizations are using external expertise to tutor executives and leaders in the art of storytelling.

A good story will resonate with your people, and become retold time and again. Eventually, these stories define corporate culture, beliefs, and values. The wrong stories, or the right stories narrated poorly, could damage an organization. Contact Primeast today and take the first step to ensuring that the stories you want to be told – those that engage your people and inspire them to reach their full potential – are the ones that are told.

Leadership Theories & Styles That Employees Will Respond To

recent study by research groups Barna and Leadercast found that only 1 in every five workers thinks their boss is a good leader. A massive 40% of workers think their boss is bad, and the remaining 40% think they have an average boss at best. Complaints that are voiced most commonly about leadership include a lack of vision and a leadership style that is over-controlling and manipulative. A third of workers say that poor leadership is the main factor of stress at work.

Leadership theories and styles vary widely, but the fact that almost two thirds of workers say that it is only the paycheck that keeps makes them follow their manager cannot be ignored. Poor leadership leads directly to a disgruntled workforce, decreasing productivity, and higher costs as staff turnover skyrockets. When considering business strategy, leadership theories and styles should be high on the list of things that an organization must get right. But how do these shape up in your organization today, and how would your leaders and employees benefit from a different approach?

1.      The natural leader

The first theory is that leaders are born and not made. This leadership theory has its foundations in history, when aristocracy were the natural leaders of people. Often these led by either fear or motivational style, but certainly because of the greater education and knowledge of the leader. There may be some truth in the fact that natural leaders appear when the chips are down, but natural leaders from ancient religious figures to Churchill, Eisenhower, and JFK all benefitted from a higher level of understanding and access to information than those they led.

2.      Leadership by participation

Those who lead by participation involve others in the process of decision making. This will include peers, subordinates, superiors, and stakeholders. Highest levels of participation occur when all decisions are made by the team. However, the leader may first sell his or her ideas to team members or describe objectives and encourage the discovery of solutions.

This approach helps the leader to empower his or her people, embedding commitment and encouraging a more collaborative workplace.

3.      Leadership by reward/punishment

Among theories and styles of leadership, this is perhaps one of the most controversial. The premise is that people are motivated to perform either by reward for good performance or punishment for bad. This is most akin to authoritative style leadership, in which people understand the chain of command and react to orders handed to them. This transactional leadership style gives the manager full control, and is most commonly portrayed by managers rather than leaders.

4.      Motivational Leadership

Leadership by motivation, also called transformational leadership, is seen when the leader inspires people to follow. This requires vision and passion, with the leader’s own enthusiasm and energy reflected by that of his or her people. This type of leader cares about the people for whom he or she has responsibility, and is a constant advocate of the future vision. He or she is likely to be a good negotiator and benefit from high emotional intelligence.

Motivational leadership requires the leader to be highly visible, empathetic, committed, and visionary. Their concerns are balanced between the wellbeing of their people and the progress of the project. However, motivational leaders thrive on challenge and so, for this type of leader, frustration will set in when working at an organization that wishes to remain unchanged.

5.      Contingency leadership

The last of these five leadership theories and styles is one of the most difficult to execute effectively. Leadership by contingency requires a flexible approach that is shaped by circumstance. The leader takes into consideration the abilities of his or her people, the needs of the organization, the demands of the project, and his or her own leadership capabilities. For example, projects that are severely time constricted may require a more controlling approach whereas projects of a more technical nature may require a more participative style.

In our next article, we’ll explore how Alan Mulally turned Ford around; returning a lumbering, stagnant, and failing organization into the innovative and market leading company it once was.

Contact Primeast today, and we’ll help your leaders realize their true potential by applying appropriate leadership theories and styles.

Poor Leadership is the #1 Reason Your Employees Quit

5 reasons your managers could be driving your employees elsewhere.

In 2017, Gallup estimated that employee turnover costs the United States’ businesses a trillion dollars each year. According to research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), replacing an employee who leaves lies anywhere between 90% and 200% of that employee’s salary.

In 2018, a Work Institute study found that 27 out of every 100 employees in the United States left their jobs voluntarily. They have forecast that employee turnover could hit 35% by 2023.

Extrapolating findings from the research, an organisation with 100 employees and an average salary of $50,000, employee turnover could cost between $1.57 million and $3.5 million each year by 2023.

Clearly, managing employee turnover and retention effectively is a game changer.

Employees don’t leave their employer, they leave their manager

As true today as it has ever been is the saying that employees don’t leave their employer, they leave their manager. Indeed, in its studies on employee turnover, Gallup found that the reasons people quit jobs are mostly within the remit of managers to influence. It found that at least 75% of voluntary turnover is because of factors such as:

Here are some types of poor leadership that ‘persuade’ talented employees to quit their jobs.

1. Managers who don’t offer feedback

Your most talented employees will be career minded. They want to develop and grow professionally, and to take on bigger projects and more responsibility. Employees who aren’t provided the vision of career advancement are more likely to leave to advance their careers elsewhere.

Poor leaders offer little to no regular feedback. They fail to discuss individual progress, don’t encourage development, and appear to ignore their employees’ opinions and ideas.

2. Managers who don’t know their employees’ strengths

People want to do work that they enjoy and tasks in which they excel. Effective managers understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team’s members. They take time to learn about their people, and help them develop by providing work that makes them happy and helps them develop their weaknesses while benefiting from their strengths.

People who are in roles that utilize their strengths and engage them in tasks they find interesting are more likely to be connected to their work and engaged with their team and their employer. This helps to improve performance and productivity, as well as developing loyalty.

3. Managers who micromanage

Employees desire autonomy in their roles. They want to be trusted to do their jobs well. Those who micromanage their teams will find that they suffocate their people. Employees under this type of manager will feel stifled. They will stop searching for creative solutions and soon become demoralized.

4. Managers who encourage a toxic workplace

A boss who micromanages tends to shape a toxic workplace. Fear replaces motivation and innovation. Work colleagues stop collaborating and a culture of blame evolves.

When good work is not recognised or rewarded, people will stop putting in the effort to work to the best of their ability. Managers who don’t appreciate their employees will be blamed for a lack of career progression and poor pay. It is essential that managers make their people feel their contributions are appreciated, otherwise those employees will look elsewhere for the challenge and recognition they desire.

5. Managers who are simply bad at managing

Many organisations promote their best-performing employees to management and leadership positions, believing that they will naturally make good leaders.

The art of management must be learned, and poor managers are often those who have had no training in leadership – excelling at task execution does not translate to excelling at man-management.

Managers must understand their employees, adapting leadership style to individuals and influencing outcomes. They use their knowledge of their employees to delegate work that suits individuals, and act as a mentor and guide to motivate engagement.

Often, bad managers suffer because of their lack of ability to communicate effectively. A lack of clarity in messages causes confusion and is often a key factor in toxic workplaces. It also leads to higher stress levels.

To drive higher staff retention, drive leadership capability

The bottom line is that employees will leave if their boss does not deliver a workplace in which they feel respected, appreciated, and challenged. People want to do work they enjoy, with greater autonomy and accountability. They want to develop careers, and benefit from professional advancement.

A good manager understands his or her employees, their individual situations, strengths, weaknesses, and ambitions. They then use this knowledge to help encourage professional development and foster engagement via values-based leadership that helps to transform workplace culture.

Good managers may be born. Great managers are developed. To learn how we can help you develop your managers to lead more effectively and reduce damaging employee turnover in your organisation, contact Primeast today.

Poor Leadership is the #1 Reason Your Employees Quit

5 reasons your managers could be driving your employees elsewhere.

In 2017, Gallup estimated that employee turnover costs the United States’ businesses a trillion dollars each year. According to research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), replacing an employee who leaves lies anywhere between 90% and 200% of that employee’s salary.

In 2018, a Work Institute study found that 27 out of every 100 employees in the United States left their jobs voluntarily. They have forecast that employee turnover could hit 35% by 2023.

Extrapolating findings from the research, an organisation with 100 employees and an average salary of $50,000, employee turnover could cost between $1.57 million and $3.5 million each year by 2023.

Clearly, managing employee turnover and retention effectively is a game changer.

Employees don’t leave their employer, they leave their manager

As true today as it has ever been is the saying that employees don’t leave their employer, they leave their manager. Indeed, in its studies on employee turnover, Gallup found that the reasons people quit jobs are mostly within the remit of managers to influence. It found that at least 75% of voluntary turnover is because of factors such as:

Here are some types of poor leadership that ‘persuade’ talented employees to quit their jobs.

1. Managers who don’t offer feedback

Your most talented employees will be career minded. They want to develop and grow professionally, and to take on bigger projects and more responsibility. Employees who aren’t provided the vision of career advancement are more likely to leave to advance their careers elsewhere.

Poor leaders offer little to no regular feedback. They fail to discuss individual progress, don’t encourage development, and appear to ignore their employees’ opinions and ideas.

2. Managers who don’t know their employees’ strengths

People want to do work that they enjoy and tasks in which they excel. Effective managers understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team’s members. They take time to learn about their people, and help them develop by providing work that makes them happy and helps them develop their weaknesses while benefiting from their strengths.

People who are in roles that utilize their strengths and engage them in tasks they find interesting are more likely to be connected to their work and engaged with their team and their employer. This helps to improve performance and productivity, as well as developing loyalty.

3. Managers who micromanage

Employees desire autonomy in their roles. They want to be trusted to do their jobs well. Those who micromanage their teams will find that they suffocate their people. Employees under this type of manager will feel stifled. They will stop searching for creative solutions and soon become demoralized.

4. Managers who encourage a toxic workplace

A boss who micromanages tends to shape a toxic workplace. Fear replaces motivation and innovation. Work colleagues stop collaborating and a culture of blame evolves.

When good work is not recognised or rewarded, people will stop putting in the effort to work to the best of their ability. Managers who don’t appreciate their employees will be blamed for a lack of career progression and poor pay. It is essential that managers make their people feel their contributions are appreciated, otherwise those employees will look elsewhere for the challenge and recognition they desire.

5. Managers who are simply bad at managing

Many organisations promote their best-performing employees to management and leadership positions, believing that they will naturally make good leaders.

The art of management must be learned, and poor managers are often those who have had no training in leadership – excelling at task execution does not translate to excelling at man-management.

Managers must understand their employees, adapting leadership style to individuals and influencing outcomes. They use their knowledge of their employees to delegate work that suits individuals, and act as a mentor and guide to motivate engagement.

Often, bad managers suffer because of their lack of ability to communicate effectively. A lack of clarity in messages causes confusion and is often a key factor in toxic workplaces. It also leads to higher stress levels.

To drive higher staff retention, drive leadership capability

The bottom line is that employees will leave if their boss does not deliver a workplace in which they feel respected, appreciated, and challenged. People want to do work they enjoy, with greater autonomy and accountability. They want to develop careers, and benefit from professional advancement.

A good manager understands his or her employees, their individual situations, strengths, weaknesses, and ambitions. They then use this knowledge to help encourage professional development and foster engagement via values-based leadership that helps to transform workplace culture.

Good managers may be born. Great managers are developed. To learn how we can help you develop your managers to lead more effectively and reduce damaging employee turnover in your organisation, contact Primeast today.

Leadership Theories & Styles That Employees Will Respond To

recent study by research groups Barna and Leadercast found that only 1 in every five workers thinks their boss is a good leader. A massive 40% of workers think their boss is bad, and the remaining 40% think they have an average boss at best. Complaints that are voiced most commonly about leadership include a lack of vision and a leadership style that is over-controlling and manipulative. A third of workers say that poor leadership is the main factor of stress at work.

Leadership theories and styles vary widely, but the fact that almost two thirds of workers say that it is only the paycheck that keeps makes them follow their manager cannot be ignored. Poor leadership leads directly to a disgruntled workforce, decreasing productivity, and higher costs as staff turnover skyrockets. When considering business strategy, leadership theories and styles should be high on the list of things that an organisation must get right. But how do these shape up in your organisation today, and how would your leaders and employees benefit from a different approach?

1.      The natural leader

The first theory is that leaders are born and not made. This leadership theory has its foundations in history, when aristocracy were the natural leaders of people. Often these led by either fear or motivational style, but certainly because of the greater education and knowledge of the leader. There may be some truth in the fact that natural leaders appear when the chips are down, but natural leaders from ancient religious figures to Churchill, Eisenhower, and JFK all benefitted from a higher level of understanding and access to information than those they led.

2.      Leadership by participation

Those who lead by participation involve others in the process of decision making. This will include peers, subordinates, superiors, and stakeholders. Highest levels of participation occur when all decisions are made by the team. However, the leader may first sell his or her ideas to team members or describe objectives and encourage the discovery of solutions.

This approach helps the leader to empower his or her people, embedding commitment and encouraging a more collaborative workplace.

3.      Leadership by reward/punishment

Among theories and styles of leadership, this is perhaps one of the most controversial. The premise is that people are motivated to perform either by reward for good performance or punishment for bad. This is most akin to authoritative style leadership, in which people understand the chain of command and react to orders handed to them. This transactional leadership style gives the manager full control, and is most commonly portrayed by managers rather than leaders.

4.      Motivational Leadership

Leadership by motivation, also called transformational leadership, is seen when the leader inspires people to follow. This requires vision and passion, with the leader’s own enthusiasm and energy reflected by that of his or her people. This type of leader cares about the people for whom he or she has responsibility, and is a constant advocate of the future vision. He or she is likely to be a good negotiator and benefit from high emotional intelligence.

Motivational leadership requires the leader to be highly visible, empathetic, committed, and visionary. Their concerns are balanced between the wellbeing of their people and the progress of the project. However, motivational leaders thrive on challenge and so, for this type of leader, frustration will set in when working at an organisation that wishes to remain unchanged.

5.      Contingency leadership

The last of these five leadership theories and styles is one of the most difficult to execute effectively. Leadership by contingency requires a flexible approach that is shaped by circumstance. The leader takes into consideration the abilities of his or her people, the needs of the organisation, the demands of the project, and his or her own leadership capabilities. For example, projects that are severely time constricted may require a more controlling approach whereas projects of a more technical nature may require a more participative style.

In our next article, we’ll explore how Alan Mulally turned Ford around; returning a lumbering, stagnant, and failing organisation into the innovative and market leading company it once was.

Contact Primeast today, and we’ll help your leaders realize their true potential by applying appropriate leadership theories and styles.

How to Create a Narrative That Resonates

7 steps to ensure storytelling inspires your organisation to achieve its potential

As we’ve established in previous articles, and as is apparent within market-leading organisations around the world, leaders cannot simply order their people to be innovative, or motivated, or to love their jobs. Instead, the new leadership imperative is to embody an influencing style to engage employees. In this context, organisations are learning how to use narratives to inspire, set vision, define corporate culture, and encourage progress toward collective goals.

To unlock this potential, leaders must develop narrative skills. It’s not a competency that is included in the standard management degree.

In this article, you’ll learn how organisations and leaders can engage and influence their people by using storytelling.

Why does storytelling work as a leadership technique?

People respond to storytelling, provided it is executed effectively. Creating engaging narratives is an essential aid to overcome every leadership challenge. For example:

What makes a good narrative?

A narrative doesn’t just happen. It must be considered, shaped and refined before it can be used effectively. A story must be relevant to the intended audience, and:

Effective narratives will answer the questions of why, what, and how. Why are we here? What is our potential? How can we reach that potential?

Developing narrative skills to navigate storytelling roadblocks

There are two major roadblocks that stand in the way of leadership narratives. The first is having no stories to tell, and the second is not having the ability to tell them effectively. The following seven steps will help leaders to develop the narrative skills they require to tell effective stories and inspire their people to greatness.

1.    Gather stories

Listen for stories, observe situations, and pay attention to everything around you. Write down those events that can be used to teach.

2.    Set the story with context

Before telling your story, consider why the listener needs to hear it. What lesson do you want to impart, and how will it achieve that aim?

3.    Use the power of analogies

Explain the story or components of it by comparing to the current situation to clarify how it relates.

4.    Make a story resonate by pulling on emotions

People make decisions based mostly on emotion, only rationalizing that decision later. Stories appeal to listeners when they appeal to their emotional side.

5.    Make your story specific and brief

Don’t wander off the beaten track, adding subplots, inventing characters, etc. Keep it specific and to the point, and no longer than three or four minutes. This makes it more interesting and easier to remember.

6.    Trigger continued interest with surprise

A surprise or two along the way makes a story more memorable.

7.    Create a participative narrative

Use storytelling to encourage the building of experience. Is there a way in which you can shape your story into a coaching event, encouraging participation and learning by experience?

Lead your organisation by leading its narrative

Some of the most successful companies in the world are actively coaching their leaders to inspire through storytelling. Microsoft have sent executives on to lectures about storytelling. Kimberly-Clark has a storytelling process which they impart to their leaders in a two-day seminar. 3M insist that presentations and business plans are made with ‘strategic narratives’. Increasingly, organisations are using external expertise to tutor executives and leaders in the art of storytelling.

A good story will resonate with your people, and become retold time and again. Eventually, these stories define corporate culture, beliefs, and values. The wrong stories, or the right stories narrated poorly, could damage an organisation. Contact Primeast today and take the first step to ensuring that the stories you want to be told – those that engage your people and inspire them to reach their full potential – are the ones that are told.

Are You an Inclusive or Exclusive Leader?

Ways to motivate employees in the workplace by leading appropriately

Two overarching styles of leadership are inclusive and exclusive, and good leaders know when and how to employ each style as they seek ways to motivate employees in the workplace. However, when a leader’s unconscious bias leads to ineffective exclusive leadership, the results on individual employees, teams and the organisation can be devastating.

In this article, you’ll learn the differences between exclusive and inclusive leadership and when you might decide to use each style. You’ll also learn how unconscious bias may be shaping your management decisions with unintended consequences.

What is exclusive leadership?

Exclusive leadership is autocratic in its nature, with the leader taking sole responsibility for decision making. While he or she may invite ideas and discussion, the final say is the word of the leader. In this style of leadership, the leader accepts full responsibility and accountability.

When examining ways to motivate employees in the workplace, exclusive leadership may not spring to mind. However, this style of leadership enables rapid decisions to be taken during periods of chaos or change. This said, autocratic leadership limits employee engagement and individual development during change, potentially increasing resistance to change and inhibiting the progress of a change project.

What is inclusive leadership?

Inclusive leadership encourages participation in decision making and problem solving. This democratic style allows employees to feel part of the problem-solving process. This feeling of being a part of something can aid employee motivation, and it aids inclusivity and diversity.

In an inclusive environment all employees feel accepted, irrespective of their cultural background. Leaders will employ an influencing strategy, providing coaching and mentorship as they encourage individuals and teams to embrace accountability. Essential leadership skills needed by inclusive leaders include:

Inclusive leaders will listen with focus, and they will speak openly and honestly. They will put people at ease, helping others to know that they are understood. They will be receptive to opinions and ideas, and seek to aid the personal development of their employees.

Inclusive leadership can motivate people to engage with collective goals and organisational vision, though it can also slow down decision making and the achievement of goals.

Exclusion by unconscious bias

The feeling of being excluded can leave an employee questioning his or her ability, value and self-worth. It causes disengagement at work, and dissatisfaction with the boss – a direct consequence of which is an increase in staff turnover. It follows that good leaders turn to autocratic methods only when needed. However, unconscious bias can lead to unintended exclusive behaviours.

We all have biases, and most of us have subconscious people preferences that align with our own interests, perceived knowledge and expertise, status, background and outlook.

When a leader chooses to act exclusively, he or she makes conscious decisions and controls their actions. When exclusion is because of unconscious bias, there is no control over these actions. Unless a leader is able to identify and resist unconscious bias, then the damaging effects of unintended exclusiveness will persist and could cause potentially irretrievable damage to individuals and teams.

How do you eliminate unconscious bias toward exclusive leadership?

Inclusive leadership is a style that motivates employees and encourages greater employee engagement. It is, therefore, a goal for most leaders, especially in today’s flatter organisational hierarchies. But if your leaders don’t know that they are being exclusive, how do you put them in control of their actions so that their leadership behaviour is appropriate in all circumstances?

The answer is to help your leaders become more self-aware. By developing an understanding of their own values, actions and reactions, leaders will be better able to employ an unbiased, democratic style as they:

For further insight into how to develop your leaders and eliminate their unconscious bias, contact Primeast today. We’ll help you discover how our Management Development Series could help your managers and leaders become more emotionally intelligent and better influence performance.

Developing Leadership from Employee Value Propositions

Learning Organisational Leadership from Employee Value Proposition Examples

It’s no secret that energised employees perform at their peak, and employees who feel disengaged can be a destructive element that no employer wants. As part of engagement strategy, organisations are finding that a strong and sustainable employee value proposition is invaluable. Here I look at two different employee value proposition examples before describing the steps to creating an organisational environment that emulates the best employee value proposition examples.

Employee value proposition examples in action

An effective employee value proposition will act as a magnet to the best talent, and help retain them. If your company is finding it difficult to hire top people, or is losing its best people to competitors, it could be that you need to look inward and reassess your employee value proposition.

When TNT Express found itself losing out in the talent employment race, it did exactly this. It canvassed employees and asked why they felt disengaged. From these results senior management on-boarded middle management to align these employee wishes with the organisation’s strategy, culture, and investment in human capital management. In its study, the factors identified as important to employees included:

Among almost all employee groups surveyed, compensation came some distance behind other factors identified as important. TNT referenced its developing employee value proposition to three of these elements that most aligned with its strategy. Prime of these was the quality of its leaders and the methods and depths of communication within the company.

Netflix created an open and inviting culture as its employee value proposition (EVP), as perhaps you would expect. It emphasizes that it values diversity in the workforce, and empowers employees with freedom and responsibility. It doesn’t have a vacation policy. Nor does it dictate on clothing, and its policy on expenses is simple: “Act in Netflix’s best interests.”

The company also encourages its people to consider the long-term view, with a strategy that engages employees in their own career development.

How can you profit from employee value proposition examples?

Excellent and sustainable employee value propositions do not come about by accident. Both TNT and Netflix took deliberate action to create a uniqueness of company brand that appeals to top talent and then retained them. Here are four steps to create your organisation’s unique EVP:

1.     Think Strategically

Whether purposefully or not, your organisation does have an EVP, even if it has not been formalized or strategized. In order to create a progressive EVP, think strategically and involve employees in discussions, as TNT did:

2.     Integrate the EVP strategy with leadership and rewards

With the EVP formalized, create a set of objectives to deliver on the promise of the EVP. The elements in the EVP will identify with employee competencies, human capital management practices, career path progression, and compensation.

3.     Communicate the EVP and deliver the internal brand

At this step, the EVP is fully aligned on a companywide basis, and it is now time for strong leadership to engage employees in an environment of mutual trust. It’s now time to discuss strategy in an open and transparent communication style, engaging employees in the process of creating and delivering an internal brand aimed at retaining top talent.

4.     Remain unique in the competitive marketplace

Even within organisations, different segments will have different needs and these can now be defined at micro-levels. Use this increased knowledge to be unique in the marketplace and gain an advantage over competitors.

To benefit from an EVP, take a page out of the TNT and Netflix books and:

Contact Primeast today to discuss our Management Development Series, including our Energy Leadership Program, which helps develop high-performing managers into inspirational leaders.

7 Traits Used by Leaders to Affirm Culture

Define cultural expectations to design leadership behaviour

Wherever you go and whatever you do, there are unwritten codes that determine acceptable behaviours. You will dress differently when you attend a charity ball to the clothes you wear for a family barbecue. Depending on the situation and circumstances, you will act differently, too. Take the example of a family gathering again: acceptable behaviour will be different at a funeral when compared to a wedding, even though the same people may be in attendance.

Social expectations extend to the world of work, and the unwritten code that determines acceptable behaviour in the workplace is known as organisational culture.

If such expectations are unwritten, how do we convey them to our people? The answer lies within organisational behaviours, and displaying “how things are done around here”. If everyone arrives for work in a suit and tie, it doesn’t take long for a newcomer to understand that the company operates a formal dress code, even if it is not explicitly stated in the employee’s contract.

In this article, you’ll learn about the seven organisational culture characteristics that your leaders should embrace to determine how they inspire action from their people.

Organizational culture and the expectations of leadership

Organizational culture can be defined as the personality of an organisation. It is its unique characteristics, enveloped in its values and beliefs, and the shared goals of its people. It defines how its people act internally and externally. There are seven distinct characteristics of organisational culture:

  1. Innovation
  2. Attention to detail
  3. Emphasis on results
  4. Emphasis on human capital
  5. Promotion of teamwork
  6. Competitive nature
  7. Stability

Every organisation will value these characteristics differently. It is the combination of these values that gives an organisation its unique culture. Employees will adjust their behaviours to match those that are expected of them via their perceptions of organisational culture.

How do people compose perceptions of acceptable behaviour and organisational culture? By observing how others around them act. In this context, the way in which an organisation’s leaders act has a significant influence on these perceptions. We see the evidence of this in behavioural leadership theory. It is therefore imperative that an organisation ensures its leaders act to affirm the organisational culture, for their actions will directly influence the behaviours of its people.

How can your leaders affirm your organisational culture?

Leaders must act in line with organisational culture. They must perform how they expect their people to perform. To ensure your leaders inspire action in line with your organisational culture, you must ensure that they understand how your organisation treats each characteristic of culture. You’ll need to define your organisation’s approach to:

1.     Innovation

To what degree are employees encouraged to take risks, seek creative solutions, and be innovative in their roles?

2.     Attention to detail

Are employees expected to work precisely, and what are the metrics of attention to detail?

3.     Emphasis on results

Is your organisation all about the results, or the journey to achieve them? What emphasis is placed on process versus outcome?

4.     Emphasis on human capital

What emphasis does your organisation place on people’s wellbeing at work? Does it consider individual success and career progression as important corporate goals?

5.     Promotion of teamwork

How does your organisation expect people to work in teams? Are all activities team-based, or are people expected to work autonomously?

6.     Competitive nature

Does your organisation expect its people to be aggressively competitive in its markets, and internally? Or does it encourage a more easygoing and relaxed way of working?

7.     Stability

This is the degree to which your organisation seeks to promote continuous change versus the emphasis it places on maintaining the status quo.

Once these seven cultural characteristics have been defined, you can coach your leaders to understand them and portray them in their own actions. By matching organisational culture with his or her own leadership traits, a leader will be the conduit that affirms organisational culture and inspires appropriate action of employees.

Contact Primeast today to discuss our Management Development Series, including our Energy Leadership Program, which helps develop high-performing managers into inspirational leaders.

7 Leadership Traits That Create Trust

Creating engaged employees by being engaging

There appears to be a backlash against all authority in the modern world. Governments and media have been roundly attacked, with the public rallying against ‘the establishment’. People simply don’t trust government and media to do the right thing.

If the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer is correct, business could be next in line to face the backlash caused by mistrust. Almost two-thirds of the 33,000 survey respondents said that CEOs are ‘not at all’ or ‘only somewhat’ credible.

In this article, I explore the trait approach to leadership by outlining seven key traits that create trust. 

The importance of trust in business

The most successful relationships are those founded on trust. When trust disappears, resistance to change in the workplace increases. Collaboration is replaced by corporate infighting. Confidence is replaced by uncertainty. Innovation is replaced by stagnation. Trust is central to business success and longevity.

By employing the 7 traits in thier approach to leadership, C-level executives will secure the trust of their employees. That’s good for morale, good for individual and team motivation, and good for the business. 

The following seven key leadership traits will help you to develop and maintain trust in the workplace:

1. Communicate effectively by listening first

The first rule of conscious communication is to listen well. Learn to listen to what is being said, both verbally and non-verbally. Discover what they consider to be the most important issues and concerns, and address them individually and collectively.

2. Show that you trust your people

Let go a little, or, better still, a lot. Show your people that you trust in their judgement and their capabilities by allowing them to hold the reins. Back them to perform. Encourage them to be creative. Help them to succeed in the challenges you set. If the going gets tough or they fail in a task, instead of criticising, help them to learn and improve.

3. Encourage transparency

Promote transparency in the workplace by sharing your ideas and values. Be enthusiastic to do so, and let your people know what it takes to succeed. Explain the future vision of the organisation, and create an environment of engagement.

Be positive about yourself, the organisation, its people, and opportunities for advancement. This energy will help to sustain dialogues, encourage innovation, and reduce staff turnover.

4. Be interested in your people

Your employees’ lives do not revolve around work. They have families, interests and hobbies that are of far greater importance. Show that you are genuinely interested in your employees as people, and that you understand that their home lives impact on work, and vice versa.

Support them in what they do outside of work. Be sympathetic to their personal situation. An hour of empathy can win you a lifetime of loyalty.

5. Be a career advancer

Show that you care about your employees’ professional lives as well as their personal lives by helping them to advance. Ask what they want, where they want to go, what type of work they feel they would be best suited to. Understand their motivations, and create a plan of action to help them achieve their personal goals. Meet and review progress regularly, and evolve the action plan to suit them.

6. Always do what you say you will

Nothing destroys trust more than going back on your word. Ensure you follow through on promises made. Of course, there may be times when circumstances change. If this is the case, communicate the change to your people, explain how and why plans have changed, and how this affects the delivery of your promise. They will understand. Whatever you do, don’t leave them in the dark.

7. Say “Thank you”

Show your people that you value their time and contribution. Say “Thank you”. Demonstrate your gratitude with a small gift – a meal at their favourite restaurant, a book by their favourite author, or a half-day holiday so they can watch their children in their first school play. You’re interested in your people and what makes them tick – what better way of showing your appreciation than a personalised thank you?

Contact Primeast today to discover how growing your emotional intelligence will provide the skills needed to inspire a fully empowered and engaged workforce.

7 Ways to Build Collaborative Leadership

More so today than at any other time in history, businesses that foster a collaborative environment are winning the race to competitive advantage. In fact, the evolution to a flatter, less hierarchical structure can be seen at all levels of society:

The benefits of a collaborative leadership approach

A more collaborative approach to leadership in the organisational environment has several advantages and benefits, including:

In an environment of collaborative leadership, organisational change is more easily affected and creates a more caring business. However, shifting to an organisational philosophy that benefits from all the advantages of the collaborative leadership approach takes time and effort. You may also find some resistance (some people may be resentful at the ‘delegation of leadership duties’). Collaborative leaders will need to be adept at conflict resolution (care-fronting instead of confronting, for example) to arrive at solutions acceptable to all.

What characteristics do collaborative leaders have in common?

In a study of 55 organisations, researchers identified five characteristics that all successful leaders enable:

1.     Leaders sponsor collaboration

It is crucial that leaders lead by example, supporting collaboration and making it a core value of the organisation. Whatever the size of your organisation, it is essential that your leaders generate a perception of collaboration from the top down, instilling it as a shared vision with benefits for all.

2.     Leaders and managers coach actively

The art of collaboration is to embed a culture in which knowledge and experience is shared. However, the study found that collaboration was higher in those organisations which had less formal mentorship and coaching programs. Where leaders and managers are active in establishing ongoing coaching and mentorship because it is something that they want to do rather than something that they must do, collaboration improves within teams and across the organisation.

3.     Collaborative leaders build a community

When people feel connected, collaboration improves. Building a community within an organisation requires deep thought and planning. It transcends all cultural elements, from leaders managing by example, to communication tools and practices, and even to how you design your building. For those organisations with a high number of remote workers, collaboration tools should enable people to meet at a ‘virtual water cooler’.

4.     Leaders are relationship- and task-oriented

Leaders must communicate tasks clearly, and when doing so they must clarify roles and responsibilities. The collaboration process starts here, by empowering people to discuss their roles and develop a joint approach to moving forward.

However, collaboration relies on relationships. Therefore, collaboration is inspired best by leaders who are good at developing and maintaining relationships with their people and creating the environment in which colleagues develop close working relationships.

5.     Roles are defined clearly, tasks are ambiguous

Although it sounds counterintuitive, the research found that people collaborate better when their roles are clearly defined and accompanied with task ambiguity. This engenders collaboration as understanding of the task improves and people work together to overcome challenges and create shared solutions.

Role clarity reduces friction, as people work together to complete tasks that need to be done.

Resetting your organisation for collaborative leadership

Here are seven tips to build an environment that embodies these characteristics of collaborative leadership within your organisation:

1.     Build a bridge of trust

Without trust, the collaborative leadership approach will fail. This is the first area in which the leader must lead. Trust is a two-way street, and people who are trusted tend to trust. Encourage your leaders to have trust in their people.

Even in globally remote organisations, leaders can develop trust. Communication is the key here, and it is essential that leaders understand:

Organisations must agree communication standards, such as acceptable communication methods and how meetings must be conducted, how conflicts will be resolved, and the decision-making process.

An effective way to kickstart the trust building process is to send a motivational email. An example of this is the email that Howard Shultz sent to all 190,000 Starbucks staff in response to a hefty fall in the stock market. He explained that the company’s plans would not be affected by the decline in the stock price, and cited reasons to be confident in the company’s future. He signed off, “I believe in you and have never been prouder to be your partner.

2.     Encourage the adoption of a shared purpose

There are many challenges that face leaders today, including the challenges of leading multigenerational organisations. Many of these challenges have their roots in the differences between generational values, which can develop into workplace relationship issues.

Leaders no longer lead by command and control. Instead they encourage the adoption of shared values and visions as a motivator of performance. The collaborative leader communicates the future vision through commitment to it. He or she is passionate about the organisation’s values and mission and that passion permeates across a flatter organisational structure.

3.     Develop diversity

Collaborative leadership encourages everyone to participate in problem solving, and diverse teams produce more meaningful and long-lasting solutions to problems. The collaborative organisation benefits from a range of views, skills, experience and ideas from people working toward the common goal.

However, developing diversity does not simply happen. Organisations must identify opportunities to improve diversity, and leaders and managers must encourage diverse workforces to collaborate effectively. Employing diversity icebreakers will help to develop understanding and encourage inclusivity.

Managers should also be coached to help their employees understand that colleagues from different cultures have different behaviours, thoughts, assumptions and values. These cultural characteristics are, of course, among the strengths of diverse teams – but they must be harnessed effectively.

(Read our article ‘6 Reasons Why Successful Change Hinges on Cultural Diversity’ for more insight into the power of workplace diversity.)

4.     Accept and encourage initiative

Leaders show initiative, and encouraging ownership of problems and their solutions is to encourage initiative. Accept that people should take calculated risks. Encourage creativity and self-improvement. People want to make their jobs as easy as possible. Accept that a degree of risk-taking is necessary to drive change for the better.

One area in which employees excel when initiative is encouraged is sales. When salespeople are allowed to act outside a rigid formula, you’ll find that they are better able to create a collaborative partnership with their customers. Instead of selling the features of the product, your salespeople will sell to beliefs, values, feelings and need. Trust will develop faster and grow stronger, and sales numbers will follow.

5.     Be information sharers, not information hoarders

Flatten the hierarchy by sharing information across all organisational functionalities. Involve people with information and you encourage ownership and collaboration. Your organisation will become more adept at change and better at decision-making. Information is no longer power, but rather a tool of inspirational leadership. Share information and you build trust, openness and honesty.

6.     Create transparency in decision-making

Collaborative leadership requires the sharing of information and responsibility. This empowers an organisation’s people to contribute to the decision-making process. Collaborative decision-making leads to commitment to implement discovered solutions. Less time is wasted in conflict management, and more energy is focused on understanding the challenges that influence the business. Transparency of decision-making leads to buy-in and acceptance of responsibility for effectiveness of solutions.

To educate and engage with their employees, leaders must include all team members in a joint effort toward a common goal. Key strategies to develop collaboration include transparency, compassionate communication, and building networks. Such strategies help to break down traditional organisational hierarchies and help develop the sense of the shared ownership that creates collaborative teams.

7.     Understand that conflict can be constructive

Diversity will inevitably lead to conflict. Create an environment where constructive conflict is accepted as part of the decision-making process. This conflict must be managed, and will then inevitably lead to greater insight as feedback is sought and given. Constructive conflict will aid creativity, innovation, and problem solving.

Collaborative leaders understand that people handle conflict in different ways. These conflict management techniques are:

The best of these approaches is collaboration, though it must be facilitated by the manager. Doing so successfully requires elevated emotional awareness – to know others (and gauge and manage response), you must first know yourself.

For details of the Forward Focus Management Development Series, contact us today and discover how collaborative leadership will drive your competitive advantage through the 21st century.

The Pros and Cons of Employee Empowerment

Research published in the 2011 Journal of Applied Psychology (Antecedents and consequences of psychological and team empowerment: a meta-analytical review – Siebert, S.E.; Wang, G.; Courtright, S.H.) provided a number of pressing reasons for organisations to encourage employee empowerment. However, as with any organisational strategy, there are both pros and cons of employee empowerment.

By understanding that there are two sides of the coin when instigating an employee empowerment strategy, an organisation will be better positioned to maximise the advantages and minimise any disadvantages.

What is employee empowerment?

For an organisation operating in the fast-paced, modern business environment, passing some responsibilities to employees enables quicker decision-making at a lower level. At lower levels, people generally have a closer and deeper understanding of many of the basic processes and procedures that ‘get the job done’ and help the strategic vision of the organisation to be achieved. It would appear to make sense, therefore, to give people more autonomy in their decision-making: in a word, empowerment.

Empowerment is viewed by seven in 10 employees as an important element of engagement, and employee engagement produces a range of benefits, including:

Because employee empowerment is so highly connected with employee engagement, it is little surprise that many of the advantages of empowerment are directly related to the benefits of employee engagement.

The advantages of employee empowerment

There are several definite advantages of embedding a strategy and culture of employee empowerment. These include:

·       Faster problem solving

First, because empowered employees are so close to issues and problems that require resolution, response times should decrease. Faced with a problem, people who are close to it have a natural affinity for it and a definitive reason to find solutions rapidly – it aids their work, making their time easier and more productive.

Executives are often detached from the shop floor, and lack the depth of knowledge required in the solution-finding process.

·       Increased morale and productivity

People who are given the autonomy to make their own decisions feel trusted and that their contributions are a direct factor in their company’s success. This is a direct determinant of employee morale. For example, 91% of Google’s employees say that they carry meaningful responsibilities within the organisation: for six years running Google has been ranked by Fortune as the best company to work for.

Empowered employees working without continual oversight from a manager or supervisor tend to feel more respected. Artificial obstacles to progress of tasks are removed when employees no longer need their supervisor’s approval to move from one stage to the next. This helps productivity, and profitability per employee improves accordingly.

Additionally, people own the responsibility given to them, and the manager/employee relationship benefits accordingly.

·       Greater involvement leads to greater commitment

With the greater involvement engendered by their increased responsibility, employees become more involved in organisational strategy. They begin to look at colleagues and customers differently, and their commitment to the company and its future grows. Satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers. Such commitment also leads to decreased staff turnover and reduced costs of hiring and training.

·       Lower levels of management stress

When employees are empowered with responsibility, managers become freed to concentrate on strategy and the bigger picture. Instead of becoming enmeshed with day-to-day decision-making, managers can concentrate on strategic objectives, project planning, professional development, and customer-centric activities.

Empowering employees invigorates leadership by removing the stress of day-to-day management responsibilities.

·       Improved staff retention

Empowerment leads to greater satisfaction in the workplace. The 2013 empirical study ‘Employee Empowerment and Job Satisfaction in the U.S. Federal Bureaucracy: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective’ found that empowerment practices (such as information sharing, access to job-related knowledge and skills, and discretion to change working practice) have a positive and sizeable effect on job satisfaction.

In a study of 19,700 exit interviews, the Saratoga Institute found that job dissatisfaction factors were among the top seven factors for people searching for a new job.

Clearly, people who are more satisfied at work are less likely to want to change jobs – and improving staff retention has an immediate and sizeable impact on the bottom line. The Society for Human Resource Management has calculated that replacing a member of staff costs an average of between six to nine month’s salary in recruitment and training costs. For an employee on a $50,000 salary, this is between $25,000 and $37,500.

According to the Work Institute, more than 41 million employees voluntarily left their jobs in 2018. With the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculating average salary as $48,672, poor staff retention is costing the U.S. economy an incredible $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion per year.

The disadvantages of employee empowerment

·       Lack of experience increases risk

While the handing down of responsibility promises to improve speed, agility and productivity, a concern is that decisions are now being made by less experienced and less expert personnel. This can increase the number of mistakes made and put reputation at risk.

The risk of work practices falling into chaos must be tackled by proper training, and by ensuring that supervisors maintain organisational standards. These standards must incorporate an organisation’s values and beliefs: care must be taken that employees do not work in accordance with individual values that may be divergent to the corporate mission and vision.

·       Potential for decreased efficiency

When people are given the autonomy to make their own decisions, those decisions cease to be uniform. This lack of coordination can lead to problems down the line.

It is also the case that autonomous employees may decide to work slower on days when they feel distracted or lack the energy to forge ahead. Where some workers are performing more productively than others, without being rewarded for doing so, internal friction can increase. If not dealt with, this can cause confrontation or a spiral to the bottom as all workers decide to work at the pace of the slowest and least productive team member.

·       Blurred relationships

Empowerment inevitably leads to a flatter, more streamlined management structure. The risk here is that professional relationships become blurred, and boundaries of authority become broken. This might require greater control over employees, not less.

Accountability issues may arise, leading to a blame culture that, if left unchecked, will lead to further discontent and an environment of mistrust. In such a situation, it is likely that employees will decide to take less responsibility for fear of repercussions should things go wrong.

·       Poor decision-making

If a team lacks the individuals with skills commensurate to the project, tasks and work required, decision-making will be poorer. This will be to the detriment of the organisation, as poor solutions lead to decreasing productivity and internal conflict.

How can you improve employee empowerment?

Empowering employees is a cultural issue. Organisations that promote an environment of trust, clear communication, delegation and accountability tend to be good at employee empowerment. Here are five key practices that will help your managers and leaders empower their employees.

1.     Share your organisation’s vision

Clear communication of vision is central to embedding a sense of ownership in your workforce. People who understand the vision and how their work contributes to achieving that vision are more likely to feel a part of something rather than just another number on the staff rota.

2.     Share more responsibility

Delegating responsibility for work that is designed to improve the capabilities of your employees helps them develop professionally. This will strengthen your team’s ability to work autonomously and lead to lesser need for direct management.

3.     Stop micromanaging

People become stifled in their work when they are micromanaged. Instead of managing tasks, delegate the responsibility for them, setting expectations clearly and providing guidance on responsibility. Decisions will be made autonomously but in line with organisational needs.

4.     Be open to input

Especially when engaging people in transformational change, being open to ideas and involving people in decision-making helps to empower employees and bring out innovative thinking.

5.     Be constructive and recognise good performance

Ensure that you recognise people for their effort and good performance, providing positive and constructive feedback to aid continuous improvement. It’s important to be specific when giving feedback and to highlight how positive behaviours have had a positive impact on colleagues. Positive feedback and recognition encourage people to be more creative problem solvers.

The bottom line

Weighing up the pros and cons of employee empowerment, the potential benefits to individuals, teams and the organisation are clear and tangible. The potential drawbacks can be controlled by good management techniques, including:

Within a culture of employee empowerment, organisations will develop higher-performing teams that think for themselves, developing innovative solutions as they work toward shared goals – and not a robotic workforce consisting of people who do what their managers tell them and now more.

Emotional intelligence among leaders is also associated with the ability to embed a more empowered workforce, helping people to take the initiative and evaluate their own performance.

In short, if an empowerment strategy is well managed, your people will become partners in your success. They will become a transformative force that will jumpstart change and ensure the goals of your strategic vision are accomplished.

In our next article, we’ll examine the path to employee empowerment in more detail.

Complete this short Employee Experience Assessment to help identify the key areas you need to focus on as a company.

7 Strategies for Overcoming Resistance to Change in the Workplace

Organisational transformation is difficult

In today’s world, change is the only constant that surrounds us. In business, it’s no different. For employees, this can be difficult to manage and upsetting. When striving for a successful transformation we must consider the different perceptions of those initiating change, implementing it, and being impacted by it.

In this article, you’ll learn techniques to manage resistance to change more effectively. We explore the types of change, discuss what makes people react the way they do to transformational efforts, and describe strategic and tactical approaches to overcoming resistance to change in the workplace.

Creating collaborative teams with collective goals

A short while ago I discussed the challenges and attributes of high-performing teams. In modern organisations with flatter hierarchical structures, these high-impact teams are smaller, more agile, and themselves structured to benefit from individual specialisation without regard for a ‘pecking order’. Even though these teams are designed to provide maximum flexibility in a constantly changing environment, it is likely that an organisation will still experience resistance to change.

Overcoming resistance to change in the workplace doesn’t have to be a constant battle in a market environment where businesses are in constant flux. With a forward-looking and proactive strategy, resistance is first reduced and then eliminated.

Types of change: operational change vs social change

There are two facets to organisational transformation. The first is operational (or technical) and the second is social. Understanding the difference between the two is critical to managing resistance to change in an organisation.

Within the organisational context, operational change can be explained as what we do and how we do it. For example, in an auto manufacturer a production worker may use a manual spanner to fit wheels to an axle. If that worker is then given a technologically advanced tool to do the job, that change is operational. Instead of using his strength to tighten the nut on the bolt, the worker uses different skills. He must learn these skills, but the operation is the same – fixing the wheel to the axle.

In such transformation, you may also witness social change – the way the worker interacts with others and the relationships they have. It is this type of change that evokes the most severe resistance to change.

Let’s consider that the auto worker is asked to do things differently. This involves him learning a new skill. However, the reporting line and responsibility remain unchanged. The worker is responsible for his routine. He remains responsible for reporting issues. He continues to liaise with the department’s manager. The only thing that is really changing is that the worker must learn a new technical skill to do the job he has always done. This may cause some resistance to change among those who are unsure of their ability to develop new skills, but there is no resulting social change.

Now, let’s consider that the worker is not only required to do things differently but also must adhere to imposed working routines and has a new line of report – to a supervisor rather than the senior manager as before. This is a social change that completely alters the perspective of the worker.

Reasons for resistance to change

In their work on resistance to change theory, John P. Kotter and Leonard A. Schlesinger concluded that there are four common situations in which people’s resistance to change germinates and grows:

  1. Self-interest
  2. Misunderstanding and lack of trust
  3. Different evaluations
  4. Low tolerance for change

Using our example of change, we can see how different types of resistance to change develop.

1.     Self-interest

When someone believes they may lose something valuable as a result of the change, they are likely to resist the change. People focus on their own self-interests (every stakeholder has their own agenda) and not the best interests of the organisation. Eventually this develops into group resistance to change.

In our example, the worker is losing his direct relationship with ‘the boss’. He feels that his voice is no longer heard, because of the new reporting line put in place. The worker will come up with reasons why the new way of doing things will not work, and small errors and any downtime will be blamed on the change.

2.     Misunderstanding and lack of trust

A lack of understanding about the implications of the change is also a driver of resistance to change. An existing lack of trust between the manager initiating change and the workers expected to implement it exacerbates this misunderstanding.

For example, if the auto worker believes that the new technology he is being asked to use will reduce the time it takes to do the job, he may believe that his job is threatened – or that he will lose overtime and experience a cut in earnings – no matter what the manager says. Trust is crucial when making organisational change.

3.     Different evaluations

This situation arises when people assess the impacts of transformation differently to their managers or others who initiate the change.

In our example, it may be that the manager initiating the change has access to information that the workers don’t have. The reorganisation of reporting lines may be needed because of the need for closer collaboration with the engineering department. However, the workers on the shop floor view the change as another (unnecessary) layer of management and are suspicious that the supervisor’s real role is to micromanage the department as it prepares for redundancies.

4.     Low tolerance for change

Some people fear change because they worry that they cannot develop the skills and abilities needed. This is particularly true of projects that require rapid change – the bigger and faster the change, the harder it is for people to come to terms with.

In the book ‘The Planning of Change’, authors Warren G. Bennis, Kenneth D. Benne, and Robert Chin also discuss how personality affects individual ability to cope with change – a theme that also runs through Peter Drucker’s theories on management.

6 Strategies for overcoming resistance to change

When considering the strategies and techniques for reducing resistance to change, there are six broad areas in which organisations must operate.

1.     Communication and education

Common issues that cause resistance to change include fear of the unknown and a misunderstanding of why change is needed.

People will only accept change if they believe the risk of doing nothing is higher than the risk of changing direction. Similarly, if people don’t understand why change is needed, they will question why you are changing something that they believe works well.

Communication and education about the change should begin before it is initiated. This will help your people to rationalise the change, and ensure that individuals and teams receive adequate information to make positive judgements.

2.     Participation

A lack of belief that the organisation can make effective change leads to resistance to change. Likewise, when people aren’t consulted and change is forced upon them, there is likely to be more resistance. This is especially the case if people believe their jobs will be at risk.

It is critical that the stakeholders and those implementing change are involved in its design. A collaborative effort will engage people in the change, and in the identification of potential issues and solutions. People are far less likely to resist change that they have helped to create.

Many studies have shown that participation has wide-ranging positive effects during periods of organisational change. For example, a 2011 study (Change Recipients’ Reactions to Organisational Change: a 60-Year Review of Quantitative Studies) found that participation reduces resistance to change and leads to positive effects such as change readiness and acceptance, a sense of competence, a sense of control and better trust. Participation will reduce the stress that snaps your people’s desire to change.

Another participative strategy is to employ socialisation, putting people before practice and ensuring that shared values crush resistance to change.

3.     Support

Organisational transformation is usually accompanied by a change to routines, taking people out of (long-established) comfort zones. This may also lead to exhaustion, especially if the organisation is subject to frequent change or business evolution.

Even if people appear to be accepting of change, it may be that they are simply resigned to it. They must be given the support needed to enable new skills to be developed and ensure that change burnout does not become a reality.

Support requires managers to develop their emotional intelligence and connect with their people. Offering adequate support is also time-consuming, requiring trained managers and leaders to employ coaching tactics to be most effective when managing change in an organisation.

4.     Agreement

Resistance to change is also precipitated when people feel they will be negatively affected by its consequences. This may be because of a perception that their earnings or career potential will be harmed or that the rewards of the change are not worth the effort required.

To combat this type of resistance to change, an organisation may consider offering incentives. Such incentives may include extra pay, improved benefits, or offering structured career plans. This strategy requires negotiation to reach agreement. The drawback is that such agreements can be expensive and do not guarantee engagement with change.

5.     Co-opting

People become connected to the way that things have always been done. There are often strong emotional connections to processes and procedures that employees may have been at least partly responsible for developing. To bond with the old may require a Herculean effort.

One strategy is to co-opt those who may be most resistant to change into central roles in the implementation of change initiatives. This can gain the support of would-be resistors relatively cheaply, though it does come with a caveat – placing people who are deemed to be resistant to change in such positions could give them a position from which to influence greater resistance across a wider audience.

6.     Coercion

Sometimes it is necessary to coerce people into accepting change. This is often the case where people feel they cannot learn the new skills needed or if they feel that change is a temporary fad that will be reversed.

Techniques for implementing change include wielding the threat of disciplinary action while insisting that people fall into line with required behaviours and actions. If speed of change is critical, coercion may be the only viable option.

A major drawback of this strategy is that it does not remove resistance to change, which may continue to bubble under the surface and result in a destructive atmosphere at a later date (particularly if the proposed transformation does not produce at least the outcomes promoted by the initiator of change).

7 Tactics to overcome resistance to change

Having identified the causes (or potential causes) of resistance to change in your workplace and the strategic approaches that your organisation should take to overcome this resistance, the next step is to consider specific tactics and techniques for reducing resistance to change that your organisation and its managers can utilise to eventually eliminate that resistance.

Leadership is an organisational imperative when managing change, and leaders who inspire a cultural shift in their staff have the greatest success in managing resistance to change in an organisation.

In a 2013 PwC survey, nearly two-thirds of staff surveyed felt that a top leader is in charge of change management, and almost half felt that top leaders should be in charge of cultural change.

The good news here is that the same number of people felt that cultural change is also their responsibility.

The bad news is that only 14% saw any responsibility for change management falling on their shoulders. The harsh reality is that effective change is determined by having in place a corporate culture conducive to continual transformation. It is here that inspirational leadership in flat hierarchical structures is, perhaps, at its most potent.

Here are seven techniques for reducing resistance to change in the workplace and helping to embed engagement in your change process.

1.     Structure the team to maximise its potential

After communicating the change initiative, consider the strengths and weaknesses of each team member.

In one-to-one sessions, establish how the team member is best suited to aiding with the change initiative, and consider ways in which it may help the individual improve personal weaknesses while simultaneously taking advantage of their strengths.

Give team members appropriate roles and responsibilities that use skills to their best advantage, while also providing the potential for personal and team development. Such a personal collaboration within the team effort will help engage each team member in the change effort.

2.     Set challenging, achievable and engaging targets

Be clear in guidance about goals and targets. Break change projects into smaller milestones, and celebrate achievements. Goals should be progressive and in line with values and beliefs.

Don’t limit the creation of milestones and measurement of goal achievement to the overall effort. While these are important team milestones that will help to motivate the team to continue with maximum effort, it is also important that you consider individual progress. Seek ways to anchor personal development to the creation and continuation of team goals along the change journey.

3.     Resolve conflicts quickly and effectively

Utilise the seven methods of care-fronting to regulate and control communicative breakdowns. Encourage openness and honesty and engender an environment of mutual trust and respect.

It is imperative to engender a good team spirit, so you should consider ways in which you can do so. During periods of change, tensions may run high and personal anxieties will be heightened. Team meetings and team bonding sessions will help your people to understand and appreciate their colleagues more easily, especially if you ensure transparency of communication and a systematic approach to problem solving that encourages frank exchange of view to reach a collective and collaborative partnership.

4.     Show passion

Communicate passionately and be an example of belief in the future vision. When other people see leaders’ behaviours emulating those required by change, they more quickly come into line with the new behaviours and become change advocates themselves.

‘Where leaders tread, others follow’ is an apt edict for executives to live by. Only by being the change can you expect others to onboard the new values and behaviours expected.

5.     Be persuasive

Engage employees in change by being an energised leader. Focus on opportunities, and persuade rather than assert authority. Share experiences as you persuade change through stories that focus on positive change.

Train your storytelling brain to discover ways to explain culture, brand and the future vision with similes that help employees relate to organisational motives and goals.

6.     Empower innovation and creativity

Give opportunities for feedback and remain flexible as you alter course toward your change goals. Encourage people to be creative, to discover solutions to unfolding problems, and to become part of the change process.

Remove the fear of taking risks by framing failure as an experience from which to learn, and a necessary step on the path to success. Help people to be accountable for their own actions, while also encouraging collaboration across silos. This will aid pollination of innovative ideas in an environment in which people develop greater knowledge and expand their professional capacity to think more creatively.

7.     Remain positive and supportive

People find change unsettling, even though change is a constant in personal lives as well as professional environments. They will need the support of a positive leader who inspires free thought, honest communication and creativity, as personal and team development is encouraged.

Employees expect leaders to manage change. Inspirational leaders create a culture where change becomes the remit of all.

In Summary

Research has shown that resistance to change is a psychological and physiological reaction (“The Neuroscience of Leadership” by David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz). In short, you should expect resistance to change. Managing resistance to change requires you to first understand why people resist change, then identify the causes of their resistance, before considering your strategic approach and formulating the tactics and techniques for reducing resistance to change.

Equipping your leaders with a deeper understanding of the emotional effects of change is an essential first step. With better self-awareness and social awareness, leaders and managers are more able to inspire and influence through change – and develop a winning project change team.