Empowering Your Team & Retaining Talent

Keeping a job for a lifetime at the same company is no longer a concern for employees. Nowadays, most employees are looking to explore, to evolve professionally, to grow personally and do not depend on one company to do so. 

With the amount of layoffs in the last generation, employees have learnt to mistrust leaders and corporations. They no longer feel empowered, committed, engaged, aligned with their organization or no longer think that leaders have their best interest at heart.

However, good employees are needed to reach company goals. Leaders should be concerned when several good employees leave in a matter of weeks, when employees start performing poorly, act disengaged, take too many sick leaves, skip meetings, arrive late, are unmotivated, are overworked, unproductive or underpaid.

Wondering what are the strategies and tactics to empower your team, to maintain a trust climate, increase employee alignment and retain talent?

Empowering Your Team & Retaining Talent

What is employee empowerment?

Employee empowerment is a loosely used term.

It mostly designates the way people feel about themselves at work, the ease with which they are able to use their strengths, to freely demonstrate their talents, to achieve their purpose, to find meaning and satisfaction in their jobs.

It also stems from their ability to feel productive, confident and in control in the workplace.

Furthermore, employee empowerment is a leadership style. Leaders must feel empowered in order to empower. Indeed, they must be able to maintain self-confidence, to manage their time, to gain influence, to effectively communicate, to listen, to reach their goals and to be open to learn.

In addition, an empowered employee doesn’t need permission to do his or her work, to create an appropriate process, to control the outcomes of his or her work, to develop a personal scope.

On the other hand, employees who are disempowered don’t openly critique the organization, don’t make open suggestions, don’t challenge the status quo, don’t know what is expected of them, and are often blindsided. When employees don’t feel empowered, they tend to leave.

What are the challenges of employee empowerment?

Deciding to quit is a long process that can be triggered by various traumatic, memorable and emotional events:

  • Lack of empowerment, of recognition, validation or compensation.
  • Lack of career opportunities and possibilities of growth.
  • Lack of challenge. This creates boredom, a need for a career change and a need for more responsibility.
  • Lack of purpose. In this case, employees feel like they are not operating at their maximum potential, that their strengths are not properly used, that their jobs don’t have meaning and don’t bring them satisfactionWork constitutes an important part of your life. Therefore, making it meaningful and empowering is necessary.
  • Career disillusionment. Employees feel like their career path is not as they believed it to be.
  • Workplace toxicity and leader’s unethical behavior. Workplace toxicity comes from the fact that core values and trust have not been instilled. This can result in being influenced, in spreading toxic behavior, in feelings of being marginalized or harassed.
  • Aggressive office politics.
  • Poor communication with higher-ups.
  • Work-life imbalance and lack of flexible hours.
  • Change in personal situation (health, family, …).
  • New sudden career opportunities.

Should you hold back employees who want to leave?

Retaining young employees is the most difficult because they need more care, more validation and more training.

To increase employee engagement and to compete for talents, most organizations resort to quick fixes that provide short them results. It is essential to:

  • Accept that employees are going to leave no matter what.
  • Accept that employees who are leaving are sure about their decision.
  • Accept that the decision to leave is potentially connected to your behavior, to the company’s policy and culture.
  • Hire appropriate employees for the job in the first place by directly asking them about their needs.
  • Conduct an employee exit interview and ask your employees why they want to leave. Doing so will help you fix recurring problems within the organization and reduce employee turnover.

How to empower employees and prevent them from leaving?

To decrease employee turnover, leaders must change their mindset and rethink the company culture. Empowerment can lead to higher levels of commitment, innovation, motivation, more productivity and better relationships.

  • Determine your core values. Have enough integrity to share and demonstrate your values.
  • Be an example, demonstrate the benefits of empowerment, act ethically and a teacher to your team.
  • Assess and improve your communication style.
  • Be fair at all times and don’t pick favorites.
  • Learn to cope with change. Don’t expect immediate change and the change you envisioned.
  • Build an environment that promotes inclusiveness and unity. For example, remove the traditional organizational structures to improve communication among workers.
  • Value your employees and their expertise.
  • Listen to your employees. Ask them for advice, let them speak freely and truly consider their responses.
  • Share your vision and your story with your team in order to motivate them towards a unique goal and to check if they align with it.
  • Set high but achievable expectations for your team. Let them know about it.
  • Clearly define everyone’s activities so they don’t step on other people’s toes.
  • Help your employees identify their purpose, even if their calling is not in the organization. It would be more rewarding for them and more effective for you to remove them from the team and give them some indication of an ideal career path.
  • Increase your employees awareness. Share information about organizational policies, processes, structures, standards, decisions.
  • Involve your employees in the decision-making process
  • Learn to delegate. There is nothing more frustrating than a leader who micromanages, who needs to approve every stage of the process, who doesn’t think that their team can have the workload without them.
  • Encourage people to take initiative and to solve their own problems.
  • Give your employees autonomy and more ownership of their work. Give them the freedom to reach the company’s objectives.
  • Allow people to take risks and to make mistakes.
  • Increase accountability and avoid the blame game at all cost, especially when something goes wrong.
  • Recognize, reward your employees and show appreciation for the work that your team puts in. Help them understand that their contributions at work have a real impact.
  • Request and provide feedback often. Give credit when it is due, provide coaching and training.
  • Have an open door policy, if possible.
  • Help your employees grow professionally and personally. Allow them to succeed and be the best. Make them look good and they will reward you with good work
  • Increase benefits, avoid overwork, allow flexible hours and leaves of absence.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

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Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

In Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek believes that every single employee is capable of becoming a leader, of being remarkable, of exercising courage and sacrifice, of investing into the company, and of finding fulfillment at work.

Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't by Simon Sinek

The General Role Of The Leader

In addition, Simon Sinek considers humans as hunters, organizations as tribes and leaders as those who put order within the tribe.

In modern days, leaders are perceived as dominant, are the ones that eat first, are the ones who make the most money, who get preferential treatment and most importantly are those who are supposed to protect. Indeed, they have more resources at their disposal and have to use it appropriately to ensure the survival of their tribe.

However, for long-lasting results, to gain the loyalty and respect of their employees, they must not consider their well-being above the well-being of the tribe. They must eat last.

It is the role of leaders of an organization to be courageous, to demonstrate empathy, to lay down the foundation for success, to show employees appreciation and to allow them to take appropriate risks.

The Circle Of Safety

The Circle Of Safety contains all the people of an organization. It is a safe space where employees feel fulfilled at work, don’t dread Monday morning, are willing to advance the company’s purpose.

It is an environment of increased commitment, fulfillment, gratitude and happiness, where employees are more relaxed, thrive, collaborate and work for each other.

In the Circle Of Safety, leaders and employees share the same values, pull their respective loads and are committed to the Circle.

Everyone feels valued by their peers, they know that their colleagues have their backs, they believe that they belong to something greater than themselves, that they can safely drive innovation, share ideas and express themselves freely.

By the same token, employees and leaders must independently weigh their decisions and ponder whether or not their decisions are beneficial to the group. It is wise to remember that working toward individualistic goals will hurt the group.

Leaders In The Circle Of Safety

Besides, leaders are the gatekeepers of the Circle. They set the standards, they decide who gets in and who stays at the door.

To create safety, leaders have to meet certain conditions and build a soothing company culture. Company culture in modern days is unnatural because they go against all natural needs, instincts, rights for safety and fulfillment.

If leaders want to create a Circle Of Safety, to establish an innovative, stable, robust, lasting, successful company, they must:

  • Understand that employees are not a means to an end and shouldn’t be exploited.
  • Increase employee cohesion and inclusion. They must no longer fear each other but must be willing to fight external challenges together. Moreover, there is power in numbers: when challenges arise, employees in the Circle Of Safety must put all their differences aside to reach a common goal.
  • Avoid placing money above people but place people above everything else.
  • Remember that they are the models for the organization. Therefore, they must define a clear set of values and beliefs for themselves and for their employees.
  • Inject empathy into the workplace culture and treat everyone fairly. This will make both employees and leaders more human, and make work more enjoyable.
  • Extend trust to earn trust. Trust also lies in the fact that leaders know when to follow the rules and when to break them in order to guarantee the safety of their employees.
  • Help people solve problems. They will in turn, help each other.
  • Listen to their employees.
  • Protect their employees internal conflicts and promote collaboration.

 

The Feasibility Of The Circle Of Safety

Making people feel safe, putting their well-being first is idealistic but impractical.

On one hand, people work out of necessity, are willing to stay in a job that they hate to provide for themselves and for their loved ones. They don’t want to selflessly commit to and invest themselves into the company. They are reluctant to put forth the time and effort because they are not in control and  might not receive the proper rewards.

On the other hand, it is quasi difficult to find organizations that genuinely care for their employees safety and well-being. Most of them tend to care more about reaching numbers and are willing to sacrifice people to get there.

The truth is most companies and leaders display poor character and induce a stressful and fearful culture. Employee disengagement, high employee turnover and health problems ensue.

Abundance and Abstraction

Finally, when leaders have everything in abundance, which is often the case today, they lose the real value of things.

As a consequence, the more their companies grow, the more they are out of touch with their employees and their consumers, the less they empathize with them. To solve this abstraction, leaders should:

  • Get to know their employees personally. Investing time and energy in them will transpire as appreciation.
  • Continually spread ideas, find people, connect with them, build real human relationships and bring them together.
  • Expand their company to 150 employees at most in order to remember everyone and to keep strong relationships.
  • Observe the real impact and results of their time and effort, alongside their employees’. This will consequently increase everybody’s quality of work.
  • Give people the time needed to trust, to find their way and place with the Circle Of Safety.

The Influence Of The Company Culture

The culture severely impacts the survival of the company. When there are no values, no principles, no particular beliefs, when the culture is based on numbers, reports and performance, the company is doomed to fail.

Moreover, leaders with poor character fabricate a bad culture that in turn breeds bad leaders. This is why, leaders are required to:

  • Rely on integrity and trust, spend time with the people they serve and shift their focus to the latter.
  • Find someone to lean on and to help them through hardships.
  • Discover their life purpose.
  • Work hard for what they have in order to value it.
  • Hold on to their responsibilities.

Review

Simon Sinek, in Leaders Eat Last — Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, provides an innovative leadership strategy to build a successful organization, to increase employee engagement and fulfillment.

After Start With Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Leaders Eat Last is intended for millennials and promotes leadership excellence. To develop a successful organization, Simon Sinek encourages us to discover the reasons why we do what we do, to understand people and their needs, to go beyond having good competencies and good managerial skills.

In this great book, Sinek places people at the forefront of the company and demonstrates that building a company from the ground up takes on a whole new sense. He believes that leaders have to take care of the well-being of their employees first and their employees will take care of the rest.

Besides, he doesn’t claim to be an idealist, to believe that all workers love their jobs and that all leaders treat their employees well. He understands that most people work out of necessity.

Lastly, he analyzes our biological needs and transposes them to the modern working world. Our natural needs are powerful forces that we cannot control.

Favorite quote(s)

In our modern world, advancing our careers and trying to find happiness and fulfillment are the definition of success. But the systems inside us that guide our behavior and decisions still function as they did tens of thousands of years ago. Our primitive minds still perceive the world around us in terms of threats to our well-being or opportunities to find safety.

Being a leader is like being a parent, and the company is like a new family to join. One that will care for us like we are their own . . . in sickness and in health. And if we are successful, our people will take on our company’s name as a sign of the family to which they are loyal.

This feeling of belonging, of shared values and a deep sense of empathy, dramatically enhances trust, cooperation and problem solving.

Quite often, what’s good for one is not necessarily good for the other. Working exclusively to advance ourselves may hurt the group, while working exclusively to advance the group may come at a cost to us as individuals.

Leadership is about integrity, honesty and accountability. All components of trust.

Ratings 3.75/5

Author

Simon Sinek

 

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni defines the five dysfunctions of a team to avoid in order to be successful. He teaches us how to build a team as a leader and how to effectively be part of one.

What is a team?

For Lencioni, a team is a “relatively small number of people (anywhere from three to twelve) that shares common goals as well as the rewards and responsibilities for achieving them. Team members readily set aside their individual or personal needs for the greater good of the group.”

Why build a team?

Patrick Lencioni believes in team work and that it is the ultimate competitive advantage in a company. Effective team work being easy to attain but hard to measure, he judges effective team work by measuring its performance, its results, by its capacity to overcome obstacles and the five dysfunctions model (seen below).

Five dysfunctions of a team Patrick Lencioni.

Overcoming Dysfunction #1

Trust is an uncommon trait in life, is the most important factor in team survivals, is rare and is generally hard to instill. Being a trustful and trustworthy designates a person unafraid to be open, candid, transparent, willing to expose their weaknesses, and admit their failures.

Because of human preservation instincts, because people wear masks to protect themselves and their true feelings, being vulnerable is uncommon and unnatural. People don’t find rewarding to take such risks, to put themselves in harm’s way for other people, for an organization.

Furthermore, lack of trust is a destroyer of team work, multiplies hypocrisy, causes the team to watch their every move, monitor their every word. To overcome this dysfunction, Lencioni suggests that:

  • Building trust takes time but is not impossible.
  • Team members take various personality assessment tests, like the Myers Briggs test, before sharing their story.
  • Team members open up so that everyone can judge them fairer, understand the person that they are today, not expecting that they reveal their darkest secrets or that they get emotional.
  • Leaders create a safe space for their team to speak. Team members generally look to their leaders to show them how to build trust. Leaders have to first put themselves out there without knowing that their behavior will be reciprocated, respected or rewarded.
  • Maintain the bounding experience and pursue the relationships built.

Overcoming Dysfunction #2

In addition to overcoming trust issues, teams must learn to handle conflicts. Conflicts don’t necessarily have to be feuds, quarrels or arguments. Conflicts can also be healthy debates that lead the team to a solution, discussions where people are listening and seriously considering other people points of view. Needless to say, without trust, the debate will easily become a contest.

Conflict is inevitable but must not be avoided. It is either constructive or destructive, and anywhere along that spectrum. It has the benefit to push people out of their emotional comfort zone.

To overcome dysfunction #2, Lencioni proposes to:

  • Assess each and everyone conflict profile before hand. Indeed, everybody handles conflict differently. Therefore, it is essential that everybody knows the way they react and interact during conflict, in order to adjust their behavior in the future.
  • Establish a conflict norm for the team. Conflict norming requires laying down rules of engagement, depicting how to team members should engage with one another, and which behaviors are acceptable.
  • The leader that sets the tone by applying the rules, adapting them to the team members and holding them accountable to the rules.
  • The leader has to moderate conflict, especially in meetings, push the quiet ones out of their comfort zone and temper the aggressive ones. Lack of conflict leads to boring meetings, bad decisions, lack of clarity.

Overcoming Dysfunction #3

A lack of commitment is the third dysfunction to be overcome by teams. Commitment lies in fact that the team buys in a decision whether or not they agree with it. To create clarity and alignment, to avoid assumptions:

  • Leaders must extract every unapologetic ideas from their team. Knowing that all aspects of a situation have been studied, that all opinions have been expressed and considered, team members are more likely to commit to the leader’s decision.
  • Leaders must share their principles, missions, values, goals, purpose and their behavioral expectations, generate consistent business policies.

Overcoming Dysfunction #4

All members of the team, including the team leader, must remain accountable for their actions. They must remind each other of their respectful responsibility, of their behaviors, standards, results and performance. Otherwise, they gradually lose respect for each other, lose morale.

Leaders have to be able to receive critical feedback around their behavior and performance in order to give feedback. To encourage a culture of peer-to-peer accountability, Lencioni suggests that teams must openly:

  • identify the most important behavioral characteristics that contributes to the strength of the team and the ones that weakens it of everyone.
  • know everyone’s area of expertise.
  • in meetings, everyone should verbalize their list of priorities and measure their progress.

Overcoming Dysfunction #5

Self-orientated distractions, individualization are also destroyers of teams. To address this last dysfunction, there is no need to have completely overcome the four previous dysfunctions.

Focusing on collective results implies that team members are not self-interested and not only looking out for number one.

Results are what measure team success and keeps people focused on the priorities. Teams must commit early and openly to their expected results, keep a scoreboard and measure the progress at all times.

Reviews

In Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni shows leaders how to build and optimize their team through practical examples, gradual exercises and valid  assessments such as the Myers Briggs assessment tests.

Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is very insightful and dedicated to toxic environments, to self-disciplined, thoughtful leaders. In order for them to be successful, Lencioni recommends that team members become:

  • More vulnerable with each other, without being touchy-feely or emotional, in order to be successful and to understand each other. It is always difficult to share information about yourself in the workplace because there is always room for manipulation and personal attacks. However, if the exercise succeeds the team is fit to understand the decisions made and actions taken.
  • Masterful at conflicts. This requires that team members assess their strengths and weaknesses, be disciplined enough to control their emotions, be active listeners and seek understanding of others.
  • Committed to the task and to the organization. Creating employee alignment and engagement depends on the leader’s vision and mission statement.
  • Accountable for their actions and behaviors.
  • Focused on results.

Each characteristic can be worked on simultaneously. Of course, the leader has to be the facilitator as well and all expected behaviors have to be modeled on the leader.

After analyzing the 5 different dysfunctions that destroys teams, Lencioni answers additional questions that he received from clients, consultants and executives, replies to the objections of some participants, demonstrates the obstacles to avoid, the ways to convince skeptical leaders, engage uncomfortable people.

At last, Lencioni provides us with tools, questionnaires, team building exercises, road maps, steps to take in order to start and maintain the team building process.

Ratings 4/5

Author

Patrick Lencioni

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How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton

How Full is Your BucketIn How Full is Your Bucket?, Donald O. Clifton and Tom Rath have partnered up in the hopes of helping people focus on the positive and not the negative. In his previous research and in his life experiences, Donald O. Clifton noticed that every interaction in life made a difference and profoundly shaped his perceptions.

The theory of the dipper and the bucket

To Donald O. Clifton and to Tom Rath, everyone possesses an invisible bucket and an invisible dipper. Filling your bucket would be synonymous to “boosting your well-being” and feeling engaged in your work.

An invisible bucket that can be emptied or filled depending on our interactions with others. When the bucket is full, we feel great, optimistic, energetic, renewed and strong.

An invisible dipper that can empty of fill someone else’s bucket. When the dipper is used to fill someone else’s bucket, we simultaneous fill our own bucket. When we use our dipper to empty someone else’s bucket, we empty our own bucket.

The power of Negativity

The Power of NegativityNegativity has the power to kill an individual. For most of us, negativity is common and harmless, but erodes our well-being and productivity. Negativity is also contagious and pushes us to start dipping in someone else’s bucket in the hopes of fulling ours.

In the workplace, daily multiple micro aggressions or the accumulation of negative interactions can cause people invisible and individual bucket to be emptied. An empty bucket has consequences on your well-being, on the well-being of your friends and family members, on your work performance, on your team’s productivity.

The disengagement and the negativity of employees are conveyed by “glazed looks”, counter productivity, a tendency to “stirring up trouble with whining, complaining, and even paranoia.

Fortunately, positivity is much more impactful than negativity.

As a leader or manager, how to make sure that employees individual bucket is full? How to get them to stay engaged?

Employees often lack recognition for their good work and “praise is rare in most organization”.

It takes a little initiative to create inexpensive and meaningful bucket filling experiences. For example, a short, motivating, positive conversation from leaders to increase employees productivity, alignment and engagement would suffice.

Leaders and managers have to:

  • switch the focus on their employees strengths only,
  • daily and positively interact with their team members.

Where is Negativity Rooted?

Our predisposition for either positivity or negativity is similar to our metabolism and our or disposition for weight gain. No matter how much someone eats, they will always remain thin.

Filling someone bucket should be unique, specific to the individual, appropriate to the work environment. Generic one size fits all approaches often backfire.

The american culture is to blame for the development and inclination toward negativity. In the American culture, we focus on what we do wrong instead of what we do right, on fixing weaknesses and dismissing strengths. “This focus is particularly evident in our school experiences” or at work where our natural talents and our skills don’t fit our roles. Also, we expect our employees to change their personality to fit the role.

According to John Gottman’s research on marriage, there is a magic ratio to respect in order to maintain positivity and to fill your bucket. The magic ratio is 5:1 which means that there must be 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction.

This magic ratio is critical for the workplace. For instance, teams with having more than 3 positive interactions for every negative interaction (3:1 ratio) gain in productivity and engagement. However, teams having more than a 13:1 ratio lose in productivity.

That is why, Rath and Clifton recommend grounding positivity in reality, but also acknowledging negativity and weaknesses and correcting mistakes.

The Benefits of Positivity

Positive or negative encounters are highly memorable and can change your life forever. Positivity creates a mindset that:

  • becomes a buffer against adversity, depression, health issues,
  • enables recovery from traumatic, painful experiences,
  • improves mental physical well-being,
  • stands as a coping and defense mechanisms,
  • transforms and breaks down social barriers,
  • generates optimal functioning in organizations and in individuals,
  • Induced by leader, improves productivity and group performance in the workplace.

How to Increase Positive Emotions?

To increase positive emotions and positive encounters, apply the following five strategies:

  1. Prevent any type of bucking dipping

    • Stop poking fun at someone, focusing in their insecurities, chronically criticizing others.
    • Encourage this change among people around you.
    • Start pressing pause consciously eliminating unwarranted negativity.
    • Keep track of your progress by scoring your interactions.
  1. Focus on what is right instead of what is wrong

To know if your focus us centered around what is right or if you have some impact on your environment, take the Positive Impact Test from Gallup. The Positive Impact Test provides 15 statements to measure your impact and your progress. Don’t hesitate to print them, read them and encourage your friends to take the test.

  1. Develop several good relationships

    • These relationships have to be best friends quality with coworkers in order to increase your job satisfaction and productively and subsequently increase theirs.
    • Actively listen to your coworkers.
    • Acknowledge when someone is doing a great job.
  2. Give unexpectedly

  3. Reverse the Golden Rule

    • The Golden Rule signifies “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Clifton and Rath introduced the reverted golden rule: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them”.
    • Personalize your interactions and the way you praise and recognize others.

Review

How Full is Your Bucket? by Donald O. Clifton and Tom Rath is a brief, easy to read, encouraging and compelling book that gives tools to spread positivity in life or at work, to become a better leader, to develop values and character.

Furthermore, I found interesting that both authors share their personal adversities and explain how they have ingrained positivity in their lives and thoughts to overcome their health obstacles.

On a personal level, I wanted to read a positive book, that can stimulate everyone’s mind, inspire leaders to work on themselves and their leadership skills, to provide some tools to dilute the toxicity and the negativity in the workplace, to break the cycle of negativity in your life.

I believe that most of us can handle positive situations and encounters, but not everyone can handle difficult situations, that preparation is key and it is better to be safe then sorry, that it is better to be warned about toxicity than to be blindsided by it, and finally that knowledge is power.

In addition, Donald O. Clifton and Tom Rath are right when they claim that negativity stems from your culture and has become the norm. They are also right when they state that emptying someone else’s bucket will not make you feel better but only make you feel less then. So, you have to wonder: are you a bucket filler or a bucket dipper?

Favorite quote(s)

Most of us want more positive emotions in our lives. We want to feel like Tammy did in her brief meeting with Karen more often – and like she did after her performance review less often. Unfortunately, wanting a more positive environment isn’t enough. Most of us have grown up in a culture in which it’s much easier to tell people what they did wrong instead of praising them when they succeed. Although this negativity-based approach might have evolved unintentionally, it nevertheless permeates our society at all levels.

Recognition is most appreciated and effective when it is individualized, specific, and deserved.

Ratings 3/5

Author

Donald O. Clifton

Tom Rath

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