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 How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules 2 How to Answer the Interview Question “What Motivates You?” 3 10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them 4 How to Figure Out What Motivates You at Work 5 Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on January 21, 2020

      How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

      How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

      We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

      So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

      While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

      Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

      What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

      How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

      But what does being productive actually entail?

      Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

      Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

      It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

      Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

      9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

      1. Avoid Multitasking

      Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

      Advertising

      Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

      If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

      2. Turn off Notifications

      According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

      Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

      The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

      Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

      3. Manage Interruptions

      There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

      Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

      If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

      By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

      4. Eat the Frog

      Mark Twain once famously said that:

      Advertising

      “if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

      What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

      We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

      Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

      5. Cut Down on Meetings

      Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

      You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

      The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

      But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

      If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

      6. Utilize Tools

      Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

      If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

      Advertising

      And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

      Some examples of tools that could be used:

      Communication
      • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
      • Samepage for video conference software.
      • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
      Task Management
      • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
      • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
      • Wekan for an open source option.
      Database Management
      Time Tracking
      • Clockify for a free tracker.
      • TMetric for workspace integrations.
      • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

      You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

      7. Declutter and Organize

      Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

      Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

      Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

      Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

      8. Take Breaks

      Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

      As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

      Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

      Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      Advertising

      9. Drink Water

      Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

      Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

      Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

      A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

      If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

      You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

      The Bottom Line

      The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

      After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

      In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

      A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

      Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

      More About Boosting Productivity

      Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next