Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nurturing Employee Engagement In Flat Organizations

Established organizations continue to flatten the organizational pyramid through eliminating managerial layers and upping the subordinate/superior ratio from the classic 6:1 to 12:1 and higher. Newer companies stay flat from the get-go.

One consequence is that a traditional workplace acknowledgement - the promotion - is becoming rarer as opportunities for internal upward mobility are reduced.

A promotion typically entails (along with more responsibility): a new title, more personal workspace, more money, a new peer group and increased authority. With this reward not as readily available to a manager as a tool for attracting and keeping people, the manager must use personal leadership to meet the responsibilities of company growth and employee retention.

A leader is always looking to align an employee's personal goals and growth with company objectives. And an employee wants to know that the manager has the employee's best interests at heart. Given that most adults spend close to 50% of the waking hours "on the job" (plus thinking about it during off-hours as well), a leader's ability to identify common ground between employee and company is key.

This common ground encompasses three company elements: culture, challenge and compensation.

* Culture – Does the company's day-to-day environment of communication, teamwork, openness, attitude and trust encourage the employee to contribute and meet their job responsibilities?
* Challenge – Is the employee learning new skills and acquiring knowledge during the course of meeting their job requirements?
* Compensation – Given the culture and opportunity for personal/professional growth, are the compensation and benefits fair?

A leader will take these three elements and frame each of these as personal questions:

* In our company's culture, am I encouraging trust and openness through my thoughts and deeds? Am I communicating the necessary information for my team to understand the importance of their work within the overall company and that team members regularly receive feedback around their contribution?
* In creating challenge and helping my people grow, do I give them projects that expand their role and create opportunity to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge?
* Am I doing everything I can to compensate my team members through pay, vacation, perks (ballgame tickets, flexibility for personal appointments etc.) in return for their commitment to me and the company?

Surveys show employees don't quit companies – they quit their boss! A leader, committed to their team members and focused on synthesizing and nurturing these three elements, will improve their odds of keeping good employees producing for their team and their company.
Bernie is an executive coach and business development consultant with 30 years of corporate experience spanning multiple business sectors. His business acumen includes leading sales, marketing, product management and technical services organizations, with companies ranging from entrepreneurial startups to small- and medium business to international enterprises, across industry sectors such as information technology, resources and manufacturing, consulting and engineering services. Bernie is known for his ability to identify and clarify the key issues in situations faced by his clients, and draws on his extensive management and coaching experience to provide a strong leadership performance context to his coaching engagements.

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