Tuesday, 1 December 2015

#leadingtheway part 3 of 4

Lunch flew by. My main reflection on that period of time is that the Museum of Liverpool need to either a) invest in more cups or b) improve the efficiency of their cup washing process. 

First up after lunch are Dawn Smedley and Inji Duducu talking about how appreciation changes everything. Now these two lovely ladies are sat either side of me today as I'm blogging away, so it's even more important that I write nice things about them otherwise I may not make it out of the building alive. 

Inji started off with a great anecdote about the power of appreciation and how that can drastically change both relationships and behaviour in individuals. It costs nothing but can produce big rewards. 

Inji also talked about how neuroscience can influence people's performance by giving them a different sense of reward. She explained how certain chemicals trigger the emotional reaction to rewards, and how if we understand how to access that chemical through different means than monetary rewards, we can still achieve the same outcome but at much less cost. 

Dawn spoke about how organisations need to ensure people are recognised for their efforts and input into situations. Check out this self test questionnaire and see how you do:


I freely acknowledge that I'm in the middle ground here, and though there are some days I can do a 5-6, there are other days I put in only a 1-2. I'm not sure that level of inconsistency is helpful, and explains a lot really. 

Dawn and Inji also talked about making recognition personal and meaningful so that the individual feels valued by it. This can be tricky and does take some effort, but brings the bigger rewards. This point gets to the heart of employee engagement. Inji mentioned Asda's mantra about "what gets rewarded gets repeated" and then Dawn finished off by talking about how to make recognition timely, purposeful and how we each have a choice of whether to recognise, and how to recognise. 

Be the change, they said. 

Own it.

Absolutely right. 

Let's see if I can in some upcoming changes to what I do at work. 

Following them was Cathy Brown from Engage for Success. Again Cathy spoke at the Manchester event earlier this year and I covered a lot of what she said in a previous blog, but as Cathy also built on some of her previous ideas here's a quick summary. 

Cathy echoed some of the themes explored by Peter Cheese about the changing nature of work, and gave some examples of how changing customer demands brought about by a changing world force business to adapt, evolve or fade away. Thinking about it, there are lots of examples out there in the business world of organisations who have failed to do that, and who are no longer with us. In fact twenty years ago I worked for ICI, who at that time were a major multinational corporation and described as the bell weather of British industry. Now, I don't even know if ICI exists at all, and it probably doesn't. It failed to evolve, or failed to do so fast or far enough. 

Cathy also talked about five generations in the workplace and the concept of working with ones grandparents. To illustrate how new a concept this is, I reflected on my own lifetime. When I entered the workplace in 1996 all four of my grandparents had already left it. One had died, another was within a year of doing so, another had stopped working fifteen years earlier and the other one (coincidentally the only one who is still alive in 2015) had stopped working that year. When my son, now 14, starts working, all of his grandparents will also have stopped working some years earlier, the most recent one being this very month. But I fully expect to still be working in 20-25 years when my own grandchildren are entering the workforce, and that's a growing trend. 

Cathy also talked about the growing impact of technology and automation on the workforce, again echoing some of Peter Cheese's points about professions that can be replaced by robots. So she challenged us to think about what jobs will exist for humans, what skills they will require, and how we will keep the employees who undertake them engaged. 

A good question. Cathy answered this by asserting that organisations need to ensure four things are in place. 

First, a strong strategic narrative about the organisation, it's history and its future. Employees should be able to identify with this and relate to it in their individual role. 

Second, engaging managers who work with and recognise people in ways that Dawn and Inji covered earlier. Brendan Barber made the same point earlier too but he was suggesting it's still a big challenge for organisations at the moment. 

Third, employee voice, drawing on some themes that Tim Scott and Brendan Barber both covered this morning. The ability to collaborate, connect and challenge internally and externally are critical in this regard, as all speakers have commented. 

Finally, organisational integrity, where the values on the wall accurately represent the values lived and breathed by leaders and all employees. 

I wonder if you can think of a time when you were partially or wholly disengaged in an organisation, and pinpoint which of these four enablers was not present? I certainly can in some of my experiences. I've had situations where two or three of these enablers have been strong, but one or two have been missing and that's affected my overall engagement. 

Cathy finished by saying it isn't always deliberate and sometimes things can get in the way of these enablers. Her advice was to keep modelling the values, take your time, share and learn from good practice, and to use measurement tools like surveys as a tool and not the end result. I've done lots of work with both IiP and Best Companies and have been guilty of using them as the end result in the past, so it is easy to do. 

The Engage for Success movement is a positive one and draws together a lot of the themes covered by this afternoons speakers, but again a view emerging is that not all organisations are doing it the way the speakers want. 

An interesting afternoon so far.

One more blog left.

Till next time...

Gary