Energized by Inclusion
Old school leaders aspire to the belief that
“he who holds the knowledge, holds the power.”
The new paradigm is he who holds the knowledge,
and doesn’t share it, is probably guilty.
We would never consider a sporting event without goals, displaying confusing scoreboards or faceless time clocks. Instead feedback is immediate, concise, compelling, and consistently understood by everyone both in the game and on the sidelines.
In contrast, many work environments are inundated with ambiguity. Individual perceptions, dictate performance standards while personalities endlessly redefine the “rules of the game”.
Without clearly defined, quantifiable objectives, players (employees) revert to the safe zone instead of the end zone.
Goals are inadvertently designed to correspond to whatever reinforcement systems we have in place.
We have all hired that perfect employee, capable of transforming our organizations with enthusiasm and tenacity, only to see their dedication fade as the “realities of the job” set in. This is the very law of all of nature. The results you are getting are a direct result of the systems you have in place; whatever you reinforce you will receive. Employees do not start out wanting to be average; we reward them for being average.
Put another way, whatever you place your attention on grows.
The systems we have are perfectly designed for the results we are getting.
The overwhelming benefit to all stakeholders is RETENTION. The cost of replacing an employee is calculated to be more than 1 ½ times the annual salary, and it is estimated that it costs seven times as much to replace a customer is it does to retain one.
The American Management Association estimates that employee turnover costs can range from 25 percent to almost 200 percent of annual compensation depending on the job function and title.
All service organizations espouse their belief in empowering employees for exceptional levels of service but for most the proclamation is enough even for their “Star” performers.
Consider these findings published in the May 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review titled How to Keep Your Top Talent by Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt concerning “High Potential” employees.
- One in four intends to leave company within the year.
- One in three admits to not putting all his effort into the job.
- One in five believes his or her personal aspirations are quite different from what the organization has planned.
- 4/10 have little confidence in their coworkers and even less confidence in the senior team.
The discretionary effort necessary for “star” service levels is 50% lower in highly disengaged employees, a group that has more than doubled from 8% in the first half of 2007 to 21% at the end of 2009.
THE KEY TO RETENTION IS ATTENTION
Driven to Distraction is the title of a popular book about ADD, but even more prevalent in our society is ADT, Attention Deficit Trait, a term popularized by Dr. Edward Hallowell. Its incidence has increased ten times in the last ten years. Driven by information overload, ADT is a physiologic response to stress inhibiting our higher levels of cognition in favor of a reversion to “primal perception”.
This fight or flight state limits creativity, reducing possibilities and undermining performance.
THE PROBLEMS ARE OF SYSTEMS NOT PEOPLE
The most prevalent cause of service breakdowns is not due to people but of process. Extensive analysis of the service delivery systems of a major luxury hotel chain revealed that 80% of the service breakdowns were systemic in nature.
Despite these realities, most organizations never take the initiative to create a comprehensive system to identify the specific flaws in the service delivery process, and then engage front-line employees in a transparent process for service improvement.
Almost everyone collects feedback from customers and/or employees, but then does little to engage everyone in finding creative solutions. The front line people closest to the service interaction often have the most clarity about the solution.
“The farther you are from the problem, the more delusional you are about the process.”
CREATIVITY: THE WISDOM OF THE MASSES
Consider Cisco Systems, which in 2007 set out in search of the next billion-dollar Cisco business not through a top down leadership initiative, but by “harnessing the wisdom of crowds” to generate ideas from 2,500 innovators in 104 countries.
Creativity is not defined by position, but inspired by opportunity. Objective tests of creativity determine that 90% of five year olds are creative, and yet by the time we are twenty that number drops to 2%. That creativity did not disappear; it is still there and only needs an opportunity to flourish.
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