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Sunday, 3 February 2013

Are Your People Engaged? Take Action to Ensure That They Are!

The whole question of leadership in business revolves around relationships with our people and there are two primary criteria espoused by one of my Vistage members which are:

·       People

·       Communication

It says that we must have the best possible people in place, we must trust them, we must deal with them courteously and we must communicate with them in a mutually effective manner.

It is important, I reckon, to make sure that the business is not a “top down” organisation, with all the decisions being made by the senior team, or worse, by the top man/woman.  

Kenneth and Will Hopper, in their great book, The Puritan Gift www.puritangift.com extol those companies which involve their people to the extent th at they develop “bottom up” style of management.

Think on these things:

People cannot implement what they do not know - when strategy is implicit and not explicit

They do not implement properly that which they cannot understand - when strategy is developed in isolation

We do not implement that to which we are not committed - when strategy is imposed from outside on to those accountable

We give up on a strategy whose implications have not been anticipated - when the critical issues have not been identified in advance

Operational people are generally not good strategic thinkers - when they are excluded from the strategic development process!

People find it very difficult to hit a target they cannot see, or embrace aspirations which they don’t share or are not shared with them

All of this means that people must feel and, indeed, be involved (the currently fashionable word is “engaged”) and it can take a leap of faith to implement it.  

It all comes down to that emotive word “TRUST”.  Unless we trust our people and allow them to make decisions (and mistakes, as well), they will never feel involved and will always just be doers and not thinkers.

There are further implications.  If we rightly give our people the freedom to make decisions and to act on them then almost irrespective of the result it must be accepted by the leadership.

That can be difficult if the result is not to the liking of the leader but if we give people freedom then we allow them to act freely.

However, freedom should be given with some strings attached. The team member must be accountable to the team, the leader and the business for the decision, the subsequent action and the result.

This will need the three accountability criteria of Monitor, Measure and Evaluate. 

Monitor means that the team member must keep the team and the leader informed as to progress. Measure implies that some form of measurement should be evolved and again reported and finally, the whole project needs to be evaluated together to examine the detail of the success or lack of it and to learn from the experience.

Overall the whole process demands a “no blame” culture and that in turn demands great courage and understanding on the part of the leader.

People do make mistakes, the leader included, and very few of them are life threatening. 
The trick is to learn from them and make sure that the system will not allow it to happen again.
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