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Enhance Performance by Employee Engagement; Plumbing

Employee EngagementPeter was a rookie CEO 9 months in and according to the Chief of Chiefs ‘not waving but drowning,’ I had been sent to help him. We had discovered the cause of his problems was some managers were not managing….with little or no feedback from their managers about the not managing.  One consequence of this poor performance was ineffective communications that disconnected employees from the business; I therefore suggested maybe a plumber was needed. Peter had the honesty to be completely confused by the need for him to acquire plumbing skills.

What needed to be done?

Communications should flow freely through an organisation like water through a pipe. When the Chief Executive pours a jug of bright blue messages into the top of the pipework, they must all flow, coloured blue, out of the tap in the basement. In too many cases messages at the basement tap trickle out; and are barely blue.

To ensure free flowing messages a map of the pipework, showing all the connections, taps and valves, will be needed; aka… an organisational chart. A schedule of maintenance tasks to be carried out; aka …a generic roles and responsibilities statement for managers is also a must.

But these are just planning documents, and not where endeavour most commonly fails. Disappointment usually sets in when it is apparent that the resources deployed do not have the skills, or pace that the plan expected or specified. Peter became animated; I subsequently discovered his father was a retired plumber.

How will we know where to start?

Logically a schedule of people tasks, the key actions of leadership and management, must be clearly defined for the organisation; they should be generic and consistent for every role from Chief Executive to supervisor. To these responsibilities should be added the individual specialism required to complete the full role definition.

Only when generic management behaviours, attitudes, interpersonal skills and competences are defined can measurement of individual managerial competence begin.

Whilst 360 feedback is an important foundation to understanding self, the role of manager has some essential core skills requiring high levels of competence. Measuring the Communication, Managing Relationships, Influencing & Persuading, Decision Making, Flexibility, and above all, Judgement skills of each manager should be the next measurement step. Peter looked into the dark chasm of self …and it looked back at him.

Let me top up the fuel tank of your personal self worth….maybe

But why create a special separate measurement meeting for individuals, aka annual appraisals, performance reviews etc, for them to find out if they are OK, or not OK?  Why does the formal record of personal performance have to be so distance from the progress, competence and behaviours that the individual displays every day in the workplace?

Managers usually meet their team leaders to discuss progress made on operational objectives; even if it’s a spontaneous chat in a corridor! At every review there is invariably a ‘well done’ and a ‘that’s a disappointment, what have you done about it’ discussion. Unfortunately many of these reviews are infrequent and no more than a chat, with an E mail confirming a couple of bullet points; if it’s an OK manager.  These one to ones must be viewed as where the employee engages with business communication, to hear and be heard.  They should consistently address current progress and performance measured against mutually agreed expectations.  How do do we travel to that place?

Mike Bennett
Founder & Principal Partner Broxburn Drive
We change Organisational Performance by improving Strategic Direction, Brand and Culture, Process and People.

This is 1 (2) 3 4 of four blogs recording Peters journey of understanding that tolerating OK managers is not OK

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