Do Numbers Really Reflect Employee Engagement?

I’m sure you’ve heard the term ’employee engagement’ to reflect what an organization wants in their workers. Engagement has several meaning, but basically it’s an emotional connection one has with their work. It doesn’t necessarily mean job satisfaction or ‘fit.’ It’s an individual feeling that results from getting one’s needs met on the job.

This begs the question if employee engagement can be measured, as some suggest. I was reading an article the other day which related that it can be measured in terms of numbers in turnover, or worker’s comp claims. But I kept thinking ‘do those really reflect if one is truly engaged in their job?’ One can leave a job for a number of reasons, which may have nothing to do with their love for their job, such as family issues, location, or even a better opportunity. This confused me in relating the two.

Sure, we can look at performance which would equate to productivity and the outcomes produced, and which can be measured. But, again, this does not always mean the person is emotionally connected to their work. We do have to look at an individual’s motivational needs and how they are being met by their employer to see if an emotional connection has been made.

To me, the best way to truly measure engagement levels is to survey and ask employees their views on their work, the organization over all, and what needs specifically are being met (or not). This could help the organization to take the pulse from the people they need most and can lead to developing programs and strategies to meet those needs. This could also open the lines of communication and trust-building between workers and their leaders and let them know they are important and cared about – two factors that have been shown lead to being emotionally connected.

Numbers do speak but not always – it’s the voices of your workers who matter most.

Should Leaders Listen to Current Trends and/or Follow What They Say?

As one who trends current practices, tendencies and even fads that impact the world of work, I am often amazed at not just how these trends get started but how they catch on and followed by the masses. The recent Pokeman craze is a bit beyond me – I never played it when I was younger; however, it does have its pros and cons as we can see the downsides, such as accidents and even a few deaths. But it certainly has its pros as it is helping bring people together as well as bringing in business for those who capitalize on this craze.

I often wonder, though, as I’m following workplace trends, if leaders within an organization are listening to them and doing something about them. I hear daily in my work with clients and in my graduate classes of problems that are continuing to occur within organizations and leading to a continuing unhappy workforce. Recent Gallop numbers (July, 2016) indicate that disengagement levels are back up around 70%, and are even higher for governmental workers. Is this a trend that is paid attention to in order to turn this around and create a new trend of happier workplaces?

If newer leadership studies and practices are indicating that heartfelt and transformational leadership is needed to increase more engagement, why is it that the old traditional ways of leading people are still going on, which is based on production and output? This is not to say that these are not needed or should not be the focus of an organization; but when the focus is only on them it can lead to decreased performance, dissatisfaction, and even burnout.

Effective leaders know this – they are aware of what is trending in their field as well as in their organizations. They survey and test these trends to determine their validity and applicability and get to the needs of their workers. Good leaders read, study, and look at how they can apply positive trends, while reducing those that are negative. For instance, boredom is becoming common among workers and reasons can vary from routine tasks to no skill variety; if a leader was aware that boredom can cost organizations money in term of lost productivity and work not being produced, they can look at job redesign to increase knowledge and skill use, or get workers involved in creative problem-solving activities for how they would make their work more appealing.

Good leaders are not afraid to release the reigns to their workers as newer trends show that worker engagement goes up 71% when leaders recognize strengths and give empowerment to workers (Gallop, July 2016). So, my advice to those of you in a leader position, or if you are aspiring to be, is to research and follow current trends in your industry and become more involved in your organization to determine if these are occurring and how you can either overturn them or capitalize on them. Don’t be afraid to take some risks and talk to your employees to get their opinions, or just get to know them – when workers know you care about them they will follow you anywhere, which is one of the biggest trends today.

Goal Check-In and Your Own Olympics Competition

Happy August! Here we are at another new week and new month = plenty of time to get those goals accomplished. This is my birthday month, also – hate the numbers but am blessed to be alive another year with plenty of opportunities available for me to create.

This is also a time for other celebrations, as I have six other family members who will be celebrating birthdays in the next two weeks – watch Leo power when we all get together! Another celebration will be for my Uncle Lou, who passed away last week.

The Olympic Games will be starting this week so why not think of your goal accomplishment like your very own Olympics competition?

  • you may compete in the sprint race, where you will run to the finish line to get your goal finished;
  • you may be the archer who will laser focus on your goal to really hone in on one decisive action you can take to get it done;
  • you may be the one who runs the mile or swims the 1500 meter, where it is slow and methodical but focused on the gold at the end; or
  • you may be on the soccer or rugby team and need to have a group around you to help you get the goal done

We sometimes need to ‘trick’ our brain to make our desires more pleasurable and reward-focused so we will go after them, no matter what. Keeping the end in mind is the appeal, IF that ignites our passions and we can see, hear, feel and taste it; igniting the senses is a great way to ignite the brain into getting what we want. Begin to visualize the goal, rewrite it out in detail (include sights, noises, people, etc.) as these make it more real and attainable; track your progress to ensure you are on the right track.

I’ll be watching the Olympics and I encourage you to do the same as this is a great way to be inspired and to see the results of going after a goal; if they can, so can you. Wishing August to be productive and a success!

Moving On From Loss

I know it’s been a few days since a post has been made; it’s not due to falling off on my habit but for the fact that I have had a death in my family – my uncle and godfather has passed away. He was my father’s older brother; but he was the last of his daughter’s immediate family as her mother, brother and now father are gone. She has been distraught with grief, as one can imagine, and keeps questioning how she can move on.

Loss can be felt very deeply by those who have experienced it, whether the loss is from death, divorce, or a job loss. While each has their own causes and issues, they will all feel the loss deeply. How we view the loss and our ability to deal with it will set the tone for how we move on; research has shown that loss, which relates to our social needs, activates the same threat and pain ‘circuitry’ in the brain which activate our cells so that we feel pain (Fuller, 2009).

Of course there will be a mourning time, where it’s ok to grieve the loss but there has to be a day when it is time to move on and to let the healing begin. The more we tell ourselves we can’t move on, we won’t; it’s when we take courage, pick ourselves up and decide to move on then we will – one day at a time:

  • recognize the loss: it is important to be full-in on the emotions that will result once a loss has occurred; for some, they will be inconsolable while others may suppress their emotions. It’s ok to feel whatever you are feeling and to let the emotions out as the body needs to release the painful and negative energies that build up.
  • focus on self: at times like these, anxiety can set in which leads to sleepless nights, loss of appetite and wanting to be busy to avoid thinking about the loss. Worrying about other or extrinsic factors can become the norm to avoid facing being alone and facing the loss over and over again. Allow yourself to rest, eat, take a walk, garden, or whatever gives you some peace, which can include allowing others to help you out.
  • find activities that will help you face the loss more courageously: pray, meditate, journal, take up a hobby, color or paint, etc. All of these activities help to calm the cortisol in the brain and increase dopamine to feel calmer and happier.
  • reframe the situation: often, guilt can weave its way into our thoughts once a loss is felt (“If only I had….” or “I wish I had…..”). Going back and writing out the situation that led to the loss can help to put it in a frame to see if we had a part in it, or if it played out as we think it does, which can get skewed when emotions take over. The loss can’t be changed so don’t allow yourself to stay in that dark area. Be grateful for all you have; as Tony Robbins says, “you can’t be {upset} and grateful at the same time.”
  • Seek help: as it’s often easy to have difficulty moving on, it is helpful to find help either in your social circle (family, friends) or professionally (a counselor or coach, or a support group) to help you express your thoughts and feelings and help you find comfort to move on.
  • begin planning for your next steps: you will eventually have to move on and get back into life. It’s ok to begin planning or what that might be in regards to your career, finances, legal matters (if needed), relationships, hobbies, spiritual, and household matters. Sketch out what it might look like, allow yourself to see into your future, whether that is a month, or 3,6, 12 or longer. Do what makes you feel comfortable but be sure to do so. Life will go on and you get the choice for what it will look like.
  • remember that you are Stronger than you know

If I Hear “I don’t want to do this” One More Time …..

Have you ever noticed how there are certain trends that come into your consciousness and that make you sit up and take notice? It could be certain numbers or people that all have the same resemblance and that can make you now be more cognizant.

As one who trends, I see this frequently; in my work with clients, I can often see five in a day who all talk about the same issue or situation. One that I noticed today involved two people – within minutes of each other – who had taken on tasks they wanted to do and involved higher performance in their jobs, and who both stated “I don’t want to do this” now that it was time to step and up and move forward. To be honest, the talk I did last week and that I mentioned, had me saying a few times “I don’t want to do this.”

Obviously, there is a lot of fear going on in these individuals that seems easier than doing the task they agreed to. They have learned to cope and adapt to being ‘safe’ by not engaging in these tasks but, yet, there was a desire to move toward them. Ideas can ‘sound good’ at the time but when reality comes, the terror of all past failures comes rushing in and now create the reality to deal with: what if I fail, what if I get laughed at, what if I get rejected, etc. It’s these perceived realities in our own head that hold us back – imagining the poor outcome before it even happens.

The way to deal? Stop focusing on the poor outcome and create the positive one that will most likely happen, or that you want to happen. Do you know the outcome to occur? NO – so why focus on something that hasn’t happened yet and begin placing that focus and intention on doing your best, working off of your skills and strengths, and only allow¬† ‘seeing’ positive actions and responses. It’s the old “feel the fear and do it anyway” mantra. A question to ask yourself if or when you get in this situation is:

Which do you want to face more: acting on your intention of which you don’t know the outcome (and having success), OR never trying and then having to face the resulting feelings that will arise (guilt, regret, shame,¬† or the like)?

Go back and look at what you committed to and why as this will reframe your negative thoughts to become positive. If you’re going to place your focus on a thought, why not keep it on the outcome you envisioned when you originally said yes to the task at hand?

Falling Out of a Habit (I Just Did)

So, if you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you know that I started a 30-day blog challenge back in June, which I successfully completed. I was so pumped that I continued sharing daily….until this weekend. For two days, I did not post. I fell out of my habit.

I feel I had reason – two, actually. While neither is very good, they both involve the need to step back and recharge. Friday, I spoke at a meeting that took a good portion of the day, and then I went dancing at a line dance event where I could see old friends and do dances I don’t often get to do. Saturday, plans wound up taking an unexpected turn when I decided to go to Universal and just chill (it was sooooo hot and it seemed everyone was on their phone trying to find Pokeman so it wasn’t as chill as I expected).

While I recognize the need to sit back and to regroup, I also recognize the importance of not letting this become the fall-back habit, which would be easy to do considering our subconscious tries to lure us back there in the ease and comfortableness it feels. I need to remember the challenge I answered in the first place. This is what helps when we fall off the wagon, so to speak – focus on your why and answering to noone else but the self – we can be very harsh critics; the way to quiet this is to do what you set out to do, and then keep on celebrating each day’s success.

I feel rested and re-motivated; if it can work for me, it can work for you, too. Remember, the brain needs reinforcement and consistency so the more you do, the more success you will have.

Open the “Vault”of Your Ideas

Often when working with clients who say they want improvements in their lives, they often will say they ‘don’t know what those are.’ They “just know” that something is missing and they want more. As we explore, they find that they really do have an idea of what they want and realize those ideas have been lying dormant, almost locked up inside a vault they’ve created.

They seem surprised to uncover this but those thoughts have been pushed into their subconscious which, if not nurtured, will lie in waiting to be let out. Often, they will discover that they haven’t acted on them as they didn’t have the belief that their idea could be achieved so they just let it sit….and sit…..and sit. Until it starts to nag at them to be let out, i.e. the feeling that something is missing or they want more. Some can’t even explain what they’re feeling but they just know.

Feelings will arise first but it’s the thoughts we need to bring to the surface, which is when they become tangible and we now can face and do something about them. The fear of the unknown creates havoc in the brain which then soon spirals out of control, if allowed, leading to a host of emotional problems. To move through this:

  • begin to evaluate your thoughts and allow them to be seen (more tangible)
  • identify the threat they represent, or how high the value of them (high value and high threat equal high fear)
  • once uncovered, reframe each for its validity or real, and then focus on solutions you can take to for appropriately putting them where they need to be
  • visualize the positive outcome you want and write it down so it becomes real and a place where you can put your focus

Hiding out thoughts is a high level activity for the brain that leads to it performing poorly, as well as releasing toxic chemicals into your system that will make you feel bad. You do have a choice to keep your ideas and thoughts in the vault, where you’ll continue to feel frustrated about, or you can bring them to the surface and do something about them. Which do you choose?

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