Rule Number One – Follow Through on Employee Engagement Results
The cardinal rule of employee engagement surveys: don’t ask for employee feedback unless you are determined to follow through with meaningful actions and answers.

Curiosity vs. Action Driven Surveys
Surveys driven simply by curiosity only raise employee hopes that things will improve. If no action is taken, leaders lose credibility and fewer employees will invest in the “empty process” next time. But surveys undertaken with the will and resources to follow through upon what is learned can, by the initial effort itself, strengthen employee faith in their company’s leaders.

The Real Work Begins Earlier than You Think
Many mistakenly believe that the real work begins once the survey has closed.  While it is true that creating and implementing actions is difficult change management work, the real work begins before the survey has even been announced.  Before you embark on an employee engagement initiative:

  • Be Strategic. Identify the role employee engagement and retention play in your business strategy and where it falls compared to other strategic priorities.
  • Focus on Implementation First. Ensure your leadership team has the capability and willingness to follow through on employee engagement survey results before you worry about survey design.
  • Make Employee Engagement a Key Performance Indicator. Monitor, measure and reward employee engagement and retention as one of your key management success metrics.

Five Steps to Follow Through on Employee Engagement Results
If you are prepared to commit to meaningful action and your employees understand how engagement fits into the strategic picture, go for it!

Then, to be sure your investment pays maximum benefits, follow these tips from our best practices playbook compiled after surveying over half a million employees across more than 5,000 organizations every year.

#1. Communicate Engagement Results
Communication is perhaps one of the most overlooked and under-executed elements of the employee engagement survey process. Your survey communication can increase participation rates, build employee trust, encourage open and honest feedback, and lead to positive organizational change.

Ineffective communication is one of the biggest barriers standing in your way of survey success.

All engagement-related communications should have the goal of informing, educating, building momentum, ensuring confidentiality, disclosing intent, improving engagement, building trust and gaining buy-in.

The minimum communication plan should include:

  • A Thank You Email: Thank people for participating, share response rates and outline next steps
  • Results Overview: Share a quick look at first insights regarding the highest and lowest rated areas and high level next steps
  • Detailed Results: Provide a more in depth look at results, at what leadership plans for next steps and at how managers can access their team’s employee survey results

#2. Actively Discuss Results in Smaller Groups
If you want to follow through on employee engagement results, you must actively involve managers in reviewing the results and creating actions to improve engagement.   And managers must actively involve their teams in reviewing the results and creating actions to improve engagement for their teams.

#3. Identify What Matters Most
At the company and team level, identify the engagement areas and items that (1) have the highest correlation to engagement in your unique culture, (2) have the greatest room for improvement, (3) make sense for your unique strategy and culture, and (4) have viable potential actions that align with your business and people strategies versus pie-in-the-sky ideas that will never truly be implemented.

If you want to have a higher chance of follow through on employee engagement results, actively involve employees in identifying what matters most, rather than telling them what they should do next.

#4. Agree Upon Next Steps
After the data has been analyzed and options have been fully discussed and debated, it is time to identify the critical few actions to get from where you are to where you want to be for each strategic area of improvement.  To create a higher chance of success, have clear success metrics, assign clear ownership and break the actions into manageable steps.

#5. Monitor and Continuously Improve
Create a project plan to evaluate and share progress, learn and adjust. Learn from both successes and failures and involve employees in making it a great place to work.

The Bottom Line
Hold yourselves and others accountable for implementing the steps you have committed to take.  The overall objective is just where we started:  to take steps to influence how employees get their work done every day, year-round and gain their whole-hearted commitment to improving performance overall.

To learn more about boosting employee engagement, download Top 6 Forces Driving Employee Engagement and Strategies to Move the Engagement Needle

What the Best Managers Do
The best managers harness the talent, enthusiasm and commitment of their teams. They know how to keep all indicators pointing up and in the right direction.

Your Goal as a New Manager
For you to succeed as a new manager, the goal is simple…you need to motivate your team and keep them engaged and productive.

Your First Big Mindset Shift as a New Manager
You need to be prepared to shift from taking responsibility for your own performance as an individual contributor to taking responsibility for the performance of your team. Hopefully, somewhere along the line, you have had a really good manager…one that you can try to emulate as you yourself move into management.

A Checklist of the Most Appreciated Management Traits
With our twenty-plus years working with both new and experienced managers and their teams, we have compiled an ongoing checklist of what the best managers do that are most appreciated by their teams.

  • Show you genuinely care about your team.
    Isn’t it human nature to work harder for someone you know has your best interests at heart than for someone who cares little about you? Good managers take the time and make the effort to get to know their employees as individuals because they care about them both personally and professionally.
  • Play to their strengths and special interests.
    Find out what gets your employees really excited about their work. Where do they excel? What kinds of projects do they tackle with real enthusiasm? When you can assign tasks that allow them to pursue their passions and engage their creativity and talent, you give them a chance to really shine.
  • Help them grow.
    Give your employees a chance to develop new skills and areas of expertise. Show your faith in their intellectual abilities by providing development opportunities and setting new challenges. They may falter and make mistakes but a good manager can guide them toward the valuable learning that occurs when you reflect upon what went wrong and plan to do better next time.
  • Respect their personal lives.
    The best managers understand that everyone has a life outside of the workplace. Family, friends and community are important to maintain a positive work-life balance and for the overall wellbeing of your employees. Certainly you should expect extra work now and then when deadlines loom or when critical projects are on the line but don’t make a habit of requiring overtime and weekend duty.
  • Recognize their contributions.
    Never take your employees for granted. Good managers notice when an extraordinary effort has been made and acknowledge it. Be thankful, individually and publicly, for exceptional work.
  • Maintain high cultural and performance standards.
    Your expectations of their performance and how they go about their work should be clear from the “get-go.” There is nothing more demotivating for a high performer than to watch a low performer stay on the team without making a sincere effort to improve. Retain your “A” players by hiring and promoting the best and letting go of those who don’t make or care about the grade.
  • Honor your commitments.
    This is simply a matter of doing what you say you are going to do. There is no faster way to lose the trust of your team than to promise something and then not deliver.

The Bottom Line
Someone in your company believed that you could be a great new manager. Now it is up to you to prove them right by doing what the best managers do.

If you want to learn more about creating high performance managers, download The Six Management Best Practices that Make the Difference Between Effective and Extraordinary

Does Your Team Learn from Sales Wins?
Many high performing sales teams learn from sales losses and projects that go awry.  Most experienced sales leaders and coaches are adept at post-loss reviews and uncovering what went wrong to improve future close rates.  Few, however devote much time or energy into understanding why they won.

Why Sales Teams Do Not Debrief Sales Wins
Once the deal is won and the contract has been signed, most sales teams celebrate and then do what it takes to make sure that the contract is successfully fulfilled.  Sure, you deserve to celebrate and making sure you follow through on your commitments is a given, but wait…there’s valuable learning to be done that can help in future sales.

The First Step after a Sales Win – Learn!
Even before you celebrate, we recommend your first step once the sale is final should be to analyze why you won.

In the words of John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer: “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Why Learning from Sales Wins Matters
For the same reason it makes sense to conduct sales post-loss reviews, it makes just as much sense to increase your insight into what worked, why it worked and how you can carry those winning sales lessons forward.

By reviewing the whole sales process and debriefing the experience with your customer and your team, you can pressure test your sales strategy, value proposition, target client profile, pricing, negotiating, contracting and sales methodology.

Why you win contains a treasure trove of information so you can continually improve your consultative selling techniques and grow your business.

Three Steps to Learn from Sales Wins
Review the solution selling and buying experiences by examining these aspects of the sale:

#1.  The Buyer
Think carefully about the buyer. Certainly it helps to know such basics as their industry, company size and job title; but it also helps to know their working and communication styles, their actual function within their organization, and the kind of influence they wield.

What are the characteristics of this buyer that enabled you to make a strong connection and earn their trust? How close did they fit your target client profile?

Because once you deeply understand the attributes of your ideal buyer, you have a better chance of finding others like them.

#2.  The Buyer’s Experience
Think from the buyer’s point of view…how would they describe your company and what differentiated you and your offerings from the competition? Remember, it’s not how you describe what your organization does but how the buyer perceives the company and the value you bring.

That’s what really defines your brand promise and your competitive edge. Know what the buyer valued most and compare that to your value proposition and go-to-market sales strategy. Any changes or updates required?

#3.  What You’ve Learned about Where to Go Next
Figure out how you found this buyer in the first place and take note so you can find others with similar needs. The key is to learn from what worked so you can replicate the experience. Of course, you should learn from what didn’t work too.

Perhaps you presented a solution that didn’t fit. Capture why it didn’t so you can avoid that approach next time around. And were there any other dead ends?

Knowing how to smooth the sales journey next time can save you time and show future buyers that you truly understand what they need.

The Bottom Line
Winning new business is not easy in the world of complex B2B sales.  If you want to build a healthy and thriving sales culture, you should have a standard review of each sale…those you win and those you lose.

If you want to learn more about how to win business with ideal target clients, download 4 Steps to Identify and Target Your Best Clients to Accelerate Growth

What Are Experiential Learning Strategies?
In short, experiential learning strategies involve learning by doing using four steps:

  1. Deciding what to do
  2. Doing it
  3. Reflecting upon what worked and what did not work
  4. Connecting those key lessons back to your next decision

Similar to prototyping or piloting a concept or a project, experiential learning invites failure and explicitly encourages learning from relevant and meaningful actions.

Double-Loop Learning
Also called double-loop learning, experiential learning allows for deeper and faster learning and progress because it helps learners challenge and think more deeply about their own assumptions and beliefs as they move to action.

Single-Loop Learning
Single-loop learning on the other hand, involves individual, teams or organizations only going through half of the experiential learning cycle.  Examples include:

  • Analysis Paralysis: When people continue to talk and think and do not actually get anything done. “If you see a snake, discuss what you should do about it and why.”  Some individuals, teams and organizations naturally gravitate more toward reflecting and connecting.
  • Ready, Fire, Aim: When people act quickly and reactively without thinking deeply about their own assumptions, beliefs or longer term consequences. If you see a snake, kill it.  Some individuals, teams and organizations more naturally gravitate toward action.

The Advantage of Double Loop Experiential Learning
While it can be helpful in certain situations to take immediate and concrete action, double-loop learning strives to address the underlying causes by incorporating feedback and thinking about actions and operating assumptions.  In general, the more complex or systemic the problem, the more valuable experiential learning becomes.

Three Skills Required for Experiential Learning Strategies
If you want to make experiential learning strategies part of your talent management process to develop top talent, make sure you model, teach, measure and reinforce:

#1.  Self-awareness
Self-awareness is capability to monitor one’s own emotions and reactions.  When we have a solid and accurate understanding of ourselves, we are better able to reflect and make changes to improve ourselves and those around us.  Without self-awareness, it is difficult to challenge the assumptions and beliefs required for change and growth.

#2.  Authenticity
Let’s start with some data.  Based upon the results of over 500,000 employee engagement responses per year over the last 15 years, one area stands out as having the highest correlation to high levels of employee engagement compared to any other – the ability of Leaders to Build Trust.

Honesty and candor happens to also play a critical role in learning and performance improvement in terms of being able to recognize and discuss mistakes, assumptions, beliefs and root causes.  It is difficult to learn and improve without truthfulness.

#3.  Accountability
It is also difficult to learn, improve or change without creating responsibility for actions, beliefs, assumptions, behaviors and methods.  Does your culture make it easy or difficult for people to take responsibility?  Are your leaders accountable?

The Bottom Line
When you are simply looking to pass along information, the old-style classroom setting can suffice. When the task or issue at hand is simple or isolated, single-loop learning may be all that is required.  But when you want employees to learn new skills, behaviors and ways of doing things in a broader context, use experiential learning to get the job done.

If you want to learn more about experiential learning strategies for leaders, download How to Fast Track Your Leaders with Just-in-Time Action Learning

Do You Invest In or Neglect Human Capital?
At most companies, more time and energy is spent investing and analyzing the financial end of things rather than looking closely at the human capital side of your company – how you attract, develop, engage and retain the talent required to execute your strategy.

Financial Health Matters
Don’t get us wrong. You need to keep a careful eye on the key indicators most important to the financial health of your business.  In fact, if the business is not growing and making money, it is very difficult to attract, develop, engage and retain the very talent we are referring to.

People Health Also Matters
Our point is that too many businesses spend too little time evaluating and taking care of their human capital. Our employee engagement research suggests that too many companies neglect human capital compared to financial capital.

Unless you invest in your employees by choosing them well, developing them in a way that supports your business strategy, engaging and retaining the best ones, you will eventually suffer financial consequences.

It is at least as important to invest wisely in your employees as it is to be smart with the way you invest your hard-earned investments and profits.

How To Better Manage Human Capital
What should you be doing to better manage the talent, time and energy of your workforce?  Do just what you would do to better manage your business finances.

#1.  Apply people metrics
Define relevant, meaningful and clear talent goals that are aligned with business priorities and diligently measure progress. Do you want to raise the level of performance? Then determine what behaviors define success, make your expectations for performance clear, and then assess those behaviors regularly.

Do you want to know how well you are retaining your top talent? Then identify those “A” players and monitor their engagement and retention.

#2.  Invest for the future
As part of your strategic plan for the business, evaluate what skills and what competencies will be most critical for future growth. Then decide whether you will hire for those skills or build them internally.

Yes, this will take time and money. But you need a workforce that can meet the challenges of the future. And don’t forget succession planning. This is another part of human capital development that puts your best talent where they need to be.

#3.  Keep track of progress
Monitor and review performance so you know where people stand and if you are getting the best from them. Be sure that your team managers know how to coach for improved performance and that they are held accountable for the results of their team.

#4.  Recognize and reward success
Just as you should reap the rewards of sound financial investments, make sure your best workers are rewarded. And see that your leaders are rewarded for building strong, effective teams.

How good are your leaders and managers at hiring, developing, engaging and retaining the best players? They deserve to be compensated for building human capital value through developing employees who can make a real difference.

The Bottom Line
Do not neglect human capital.  When you can apply the same measure of discipline and the same amount of attention on your human capital as you do on your financial capital, you will greatly enhance your chances of success.

If you want to learn more about what it takes to wisely invest in human capital, download Why Talent Is Only 1/3rd of the Talent Management Recipe for Success

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