Advertising
Advertising

You Want Engagement? Then Start Being Clear!

You Want Engagement? Then Start Being Clear!

20090507-sky

    keys1
      How to keep the wheels turning even when you aren’t looking…

      The Problem: you want your staff to go the extra mile. You want your team to take some risks. You want your employees to ‘get the big picture’ and do what it takes to make it happen. You want the wheels to stay on the bus even when you aren’t there.

      What you want is engagement. But no one’s buying. If you want something done you have to spell it out in detail, or just give up and get to that ugly “I’ll just do it myself” place of the defeated manager. You feel like every time you turn your back, the wheels come off the bus again. You’ve got zero engagement.

      Engagement was defined by John Gibbons (writing for the Conference Board) as “a heightened emotional connection that an employee feels for his or her organization, that influences him or her to exert greater discretionary effort to his or her work”. Notice the line from emotional connection to greater discretionary effort.

      Advertising

      Discretionary effort is the phrase that describes what every employer wants: for the employee to figure out what is needed for success in the bigger picture, and to do whatever is needed to get there – without anyone standing over their shoulder… Stuff just gets done.

      So how do you get your team to this place? What do we require to become fully engaged? In my experience, three things are needed: clarity, hope, and commitment.

      Clarity
      In his book The One Thing You Need to Know… Marcus Buckingham writes that the one thing you need to know about great leadership is “Discover what is universal, and capitalize on it.” Buckingham tells us that what is universally required of leadership is clarity. Specifically, an optimistic clarity about the future.

      We’ll work our hearts out for you (that’s discretionary engagement) if you can make us see with crystal clarity the great future we are all headed for.

      Leadership is the work of leaders. That means get out front and lead. You must see what others cannot yet see. You must see the future with an optimistic clarity that inspires others to follow. Leadership does not just require clarity; leadership is clarity.

      Advertising

      If you can’t see the future more clearly and more optimistically than the rest of us, what makes you a leader?

      Hope
      If there is clarity about the future, then the next link in the chain is possible: hope.

      Hope, as I have defined it, has two components: an optimistic vision of the future, and the belief that we have what it takes to get there. As a leader your clarity of vision creates the precondition for that kind of hope. We must see where we are going, and we must believe it is a place worth getting to, before we decide to invest our blood, sweat, and tears to get there! The success of every great religious leader, every reformer, every leader of any expedition across any ocean or continent has been dependent on their clarity of just how much greener that grass over there is.

      When we can see that where we are headed is better than where we are now, clarity becomes hope.

      Great managers play a critical role in inspiring hopefulness in teams. With their defining work in understanding the strengths of every employee (Buckingham again), great managers help us understand exactly what our role is, and leverage our strengths in achieving the goals of the organization. Great managers support our contribution by constantly encouraging further growth where they know we are strong, and by giving us opportunities to use those strengths for the greater good.

      Advertising

      Great managers act as match-makers between our strengths and the jobs that need to get done. The result, when all is right, is that powerful feeling of a team that is firing on all cylinders, and every member is clear about their role in the success of the overall project. And like so much in life, success builds more success: feeling like we are successful contributors to the greater good, and being part of a successful initiative, builds the confidence and hopefulness that leads to more success.

      When clarity and true hopefulness exist in an organization, the stage is set for the third component of total engagement: commitment.

      Commitment

      When our leaders give us clarity and hope about our futures and the future of the organization, the stage is set for us to make a commitment. Starting on a journey of change and growth requires clarity and hope. But there is no journey at all without commitment. Commitment is the action piece. It’s time to start walking. Commitment is, to paraphrase Nike Corp., ‘just doing it’.

      If organizational change sometimes feels like going over a cliff, then clarity is envisioning just how we will make the tricky descent, and hope is the confidence we will make it to the bottom in one piece. Commitment is taking the first step over the edge. Commitment is the point at which there is no turning back.

      Advertising

      If clarity is the domain of leadership, and engendering hopefulness the domain of great managers, commitment is the responsibility of the whole team. Literally, if clarity and hopefulness are the call, commitment is the response. We are all going over the edge together, and my commitment as a team member is that I will take that first step with everyone else, and every required step after it, until we reach our goal.

      Now we have engagement.

      So you want complete engagement? Give us complete clarity. Don’t complain that you can’t get anyone involved/engaged/committed in your project, your vision, if you can’t help us see it. Do your job as a leader, or we will wander off somewhere else. Require that our managers provide the kind of intelligent feedback and empowerment that strengthens our confidence in ourselves and in the organization we work for, or we will falter and lose our commitment.

      Do you want your employees to tap into that mysterious ‘discretionary effort’ that means the wheels stay on the bus even when you are out of the building? Then make sure that you have done your part to be clear, and to connect our strengths with the task at hand. If you’ve really done your part, then you’ll get passionate engagement and everyone will take that first step towards extraordinary growth and change together, and then keep on walking!

      More by this author

      The One Thing You Need to Close the Deal on Change If your business disappeared tomorrow… You Want Engagement? Then Start Being Clear! Are you Satisfied? Searching for a Shared Virtual Workspace?

      Trending in Work

      1 20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs) 2 The Best Interview Questions to Hire Only the Elites 3 How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed 4 15 Smart Ways to Approach Interpersonal Relationships at Work 5 How to Be Productive at Work: 9 Ground Rules

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on August 19, 2019

      20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

      20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

      A resume describes your critical skills in a way that compels a hiring manager to want to meet you. That is a resume’s sole purpose.

      And make no mistake: Writing a resume is an art.

      Today each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes on average, and somehow yours will need to rise above the competition. It’s actually harder to snag an interview from an online posting than to get into Harvard. But don’t let that intimidate you. Instead, open your laptop, roll up your proverbial sleeves, and let’s get to work!


      Employers generally prefer candidates with skills that show leadership ability, problem-solving ability, and perseverance through challenges. So in the resume, you should demonstrate that you’re a dynamic candidate.

      Refine the skills on your resume so that you incorporate these resume “musts:”

      1. Leadership Ability

      Even an entry-level employee can show leadership. Point out how your skills helped your department ascend to a new level. Capture leadership attributes with compelling statements.

      Example:

      “Led change that drove efficiency and an ability to cut 800 error-free payroll checks.”

      2. Problem-Solving Ability

      Most employees are hired to solve problems. Showcase that ability on your resume.

      Example:

      “Led staff in campaign to outrival top competitor’s market share during a down cycle.”

      3. Perseverance

      Have you been promoted several times? Or have you maintained margins in a down cycle? Both achievements demonstrate persistence. You look like someone who can navigate roadblocks.

      4. Technical Skills

      Consider including a Key Skills or Technology Skills section in which you list computer and software skills.

      Example:

      “Expert-level knowledge in Java.”

      Advertising

      5. Quantified Results

      Nothing is quite as attractive as objective results. Did you increase sales by 25 percent? Win three new clients? Surpass the internal goal by 15 percent?

      Use hard-hitting numbers to express your point. State the result first, and then provide a sentence or phrase describing the critical skills you applied to achieve the milestone.

      Example:

      “Boosted sales by 200 percent by developing new online platform that made it easier for customers to compare and contrast sizes, textures, and fit.”

      6. People Skills

      Employers prefer congenial staff members to prima donnas or mavericks. Relate your strongest soft skills.

      Example:

      “Organized, hard-working staffer who listens well and communicates effectively.”

      7. Passion in the Field

      Recruiters and hiring managers can intuit whether candidates care about their career performance by the dynamism behind the descriptions of their skills on their resumes. Are your efforts “transformational” or merely “useful?” Were your results “game-changing” or boringly “appropriate?”

      The tenor of your words reveals whether you’re passionate or passive. (But don’t overdo it. See the “Hyperbole” section below.)

      8. Being the Entrepreneur within the Corporation

      Whether you took the initiative to create a new synergy or worked independently to land an opportunity, share how you furthered organizational goals through your self-directed efforts.

      9. Your Adaptability

      Have you switched career paths? Weathered a corporate takeover?

      Make it clear that your resilience helped get you and your organization through the turbulence.

      10. Confirming Your Expertise

      Every job posting states experience requirements. Ideally, you want to meet these requirements or best them. But don’t exaggerate.


      While proving that you possess the credentials described in the job posting, you can still stand out if you are able to offer additional special skills to showcase your personality.

      Advertising

      Consider adding any of these special accomplishments, if true:

      11. Referencing Award-Winning Talents

      If you played center on your college basketball team that made it into the Top 10 finals, then working collaboratively and cooperatively are among your natural callings. Be sure to say so.

      12. Unveiling Your Work Persona

      If you were repeatedly singled out for your stellar performance in work settings, becoming employee-of-the-month, top revenue generator, and so on — it’s worth mentioning.

      13. Capitalizing on Commonalities

      From Googling the hiring manager, you discover that she was formerly a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize. Listing your Spanish immersion course in Central America may draw her attention to the other outstanding skills on your resume.

      14. Highlighting Creative Tactics

      If, for example, in your HR role, you piloted an employee incentive program that became an industry model, include it. Such innovative thinking will command an employer’s attention.

      15. Specifying All Accolades

      Listing any honors received instills confidence that you will bring that level of perfectionism forward in a corporate environment.

      16. Transferable Skills

      You spend your spare time conducting your community orchestra. Highlight this after-hours pursuit to show that you have the critical skills needed to keep a team on task.


      Take note: Hyperbole can hurt you. So, show your credibility.

      Although it may be tempting to use embellishments to boost your experience, improve your job title, or enhance your education, resist. These days, a five-minute search will reveal the truth. And taking self-inflation too far could easily come back to destroy your career.

      Hiring managers have their antenna up for resume hyperbole. A survey shows that 53 percent are suspicious that candidates are often dishonest.

      Follow these guiding principles when writing your own resume:

      17. Accurately Describing Your Degree

      Make sure to differentiate between certificates attained and degrees earned, along with the name of the institution awarding them.

      Advertising

      18. Stating Job Duration with Honest Dates

      Honesty is the only policy when reporting the length of a particular job. If you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time, state the reason you have gaps.

      Whether you traveled, had to cope with a family emergency, or went back to school to change your professional track, communicate the positive outcome that came from the hiatus.

      19. Claiming Only the Skills You Truly Possess

      Unless you’re proficient in a software program or are fluent in a second language, leave any mention of them off.

      Conversely, if you feel like you must include them, then accurately qualify your level of competence.

      20. Being Honest About Your Role in a Project

      You may think you were the lead person because you did most of the work, but chances are your supervisor thinks otherwise.

      Besides the 20 critical skills to include on your resume, here’re some important notes for you.

      Bonus Tips for Writing a Resume

      You Only Have 6 to 7 Seconds to Impress the Employer

      Hiring managers and artificial intelligence “bots” may spend only 6 to 7 seconds perusing your resume, which means you need it to teem with essential skills, quantifiable achievements, and action words.

      If, in fact, you believe that a “bot” will be analyzing your resume before it even lands on a hiring manager’s desk, be sure to include some of the actual key words from the posting in your document. There’s no reason why you can’t customize your resume to each job posting.

      Another tip: Be sure to show your resume to a few individuals who work in your field, so that you can fine-tune the information as needed.

      Starting at the Top

      The Objective at the top of your resume is optional if you’re seeking the same job you already have, just at different company. However, if you’re switching fields, it’s critical to include an Objective, which is a one-sentence summary of the job you want.

      For example:

      Objective: To become web editor at a thriving news website.

      Advertising

      If you’ve been in your field for ten years or more, you will probably want to include an Executive Summary. This is a one-sentence takeaway about who you are, including the critical skills you amassed throughout your career.

      For example:

      Executive Summary: Award-winning creative director with over ten years experience managing teams on three continents.

      Depending on your field, you may also want to add some skills as bullet points in the Executive Summary section.

      And what about your Education? If you graduated from college within the past ten years, include your Education just below the Objective section (and forgo the Executive Summary). If it’s been over ten years since you graduated, then include your Education at the very end of your resume. Only cite your grade point average (G.P.A.) if it was exceptional—3.7 G.P.A. or higher, or if you won scholastic awards.

      Ideally, the critical skills you amassed during college, at your previous job, and throughout your career will add up to a riveting portrait of a professional who’s ideally suited for your dream position: You.

      Tailor, Tweak, and Fine-Tune

      If you’re targeting different kinds of organizations, you’ll need customized resumes for each outreach.

      Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, organizations will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

      Approach Your Resume as a Skills-Based Story

      Like any good storyteller, lay out the framework at the beginning. Include the skills you’ve mastered and state how you can add value—wording your sentences in a way that reflects the specific job you’re seeking.

      Are you vying for a sales position? Quantify your results: “Responsible for 50 percent of all sales that resulted in $750,000 in annual revenue.” Use your critical skills, peppered throughout your resume, to tell the exciting story of your distinguished professional career!

      Researching the organization that you’re targeting will help you make your examples specific. Does the company cater to a particular audience or clientele? Be sure to note any experiences you’ve had with similar audiences.

      Putting It All Together

      A resume is not a laundry list. It tells a cohesive story. Your story should highlight your qualifications and critical skills in a way that makes a logical, well-constructed case for your compatibility with the organization and its advertised position.

      Packaging your story into the concisely prescribed format of a resume means that it will read as a synopsis — one that will hopefully land you the job.

      More About Work Skills

      Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

      Read Next