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A Sign of Maturity…

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Earlier today I gave a workshop on how to get employees more engaged to a group for CEO’s in Orlando, Florida, and as we were going around the room recapping what everyone thought was the clear “take-away” for them, one CEO said she was reminded of an old adage, “One clear sign of maturity is not needing to be lied to anymore.”  She was referring to the results she had just reviewed of our High Performance Culture Assessment (HPCA) completed for her firm.

While her company was clearly doing some things well regarding employee engagement, the numbers also highlighted a significant opportunity to improve some aspects of their organizational culture.  It was more than evident to her that workplace performance was not what it could be, and her sentiment reflected — despite what could be considered a poor showing — some gratitude that she now had a more realistic picture of what was happening.

It wasn’t a surprise.  Their numbers were in decline, in large part due to the recession’s impact on the Florida economy.  But she and the others in the room were pleased to see that there are proven methods to improve employee performance and satisfaction even in a downturn.

Another CEO said he “was depressed about how poorly I do this,” referring to not having had more of a focus on engagement issues.  Our experience with several hundred CEO’s during the last year indicates he is not alone.  The recession has pushed CEO’s and their senior leadership teams into an almost singular focus on “the numbers” as they attempt to brave the economic storm.  It is a natural response to the circumstances, yet it can have the effect of making the numbers even worse as employees respond to the lack of attention (and the concurrent lack of communication) with even less vigor and focus (and more felt risk) in the workplace.

BEST PRACTICE — There is a rational reason why CEO’s get focused on key financial indicators in bad times (and good times), but this is worth remembering:

  • Numbers Drive the Business
  • People Drive the Numbers
  • Beliefs and Behaviors Drive the People
  • Emotion Drives Behavior

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Don Rheem’s presentation on Employee Engagement gets underneath the real “whys” on the behavior of discretionary effort. I found his examples to be relative and understandable. I see how our leaders are making better connections with the hearts of our people, so everyone better understands the goals of the enterprise.

--Peter Rittenhouse, Director of Supply Chain
Nestle Waters
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