A few years ago I had the chance to go on a whitewater rafting trip with some friends. Before we were ever allowed in the water, our guide spent a significant amount of time with us discussing safety rules and rafting techniques. He explained what we were to do, when to do it, and why it was important. We practiced responding to commands and ducking into the boat.
He wanted to make sure that when we were in the middle of a large rapid, we would all be on the same page, and respond appropriately.
Organizations face similar challenges every day. How do you ensure that everyone on your team is headed in the same direction? How do you make sure they are prepared to work as a team and respond appropriately when the heat is on.
As the end of summer approaches, my attention has naturally turned to the beginning of a new school year. There are supplies to be purchased, new teachers to meet, and schedules to coordinate. My thoughts, however, have been focused less on the tangible activities related to a new school year and more on the growth of my children.
This growth becomes particularly evident in light of the milestones they are reaching. The first day of kindergarten, new classes and subjects, rapidly increasing grade numbers. The progress is much easier to see when there are clear markers that can be observed, as opposed to the progress during the school year that often goes unnoticed.
Most people agree that one of the keys to organizational success is having an engaged workforce.
Over the years, the understanding and terminology around employee engagement has shifted. From employee satisfaction in the 1970’s and 80’s, to employee commitment, then employee engagement, and now sustained engagement.
Despite these changes in understanding, the basic approach is still the same. Use some form of employee survey to gather the opinions and thoughts of your team, develop an action plan to address deficiencies, rinse, and repeat.
Unfortunately, the results have been similarly stagnant. Despite decades of work, employees are still remarkably disengaged. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work.
Why is that?
I often find myself working on household projects and reaching a point where I must make a decision: Should I take the time to get the right tool for the job or will I make do with what I have at hand?
One example of this situation has stuck with me for quite some time. I was building a swing set for my daughter when I reached a point in the instructions that required a hole to be drilled in a very tight space. I considered many options for how to get the job done with my available tools. Unfortunately, all of them involved some combination of extra work, a likelihood of failure, or unsafe behaviors. In all, I spent the better part of a week on this problem, not making any progress. Continue reading
Welcome to the Improving Leadership Blog. I’m looking forward to generating some interesting conversations about the role of leaders in building an improvement-oriented culture.
In this first post, I’d like to introduce you to the basic framework that I will be using to generate discussions. This should provide you with a general idea of the topics that I will cover and why they matter.
As Simon Sinek would suggest, let’s start with why.