One of the scariest things you can do as a business leader is to ask your staff how happy they are in their job and take their feedback full in the face.
I’m grateful to my team for the lessons I just learned about Intergage from them. Broadly speaking everything is pretty great at Intergage. Staff turnover is low and the vast majority of the team are happy (44%) or very happy (43%) which is good to hear but leaves me with work to do.
Naturally, as a leader, you’d prefer to hear that 100% of your team are very happy all the time – perhaps an impossible goal in a business where you employ 40+ people – but it is very important to understand just where you are, how much work you have to do and what you need to work on in pursuing your goal of 100% staff engagement.
We all know that engagement impacts productivity and performance in your organisation. Not long ago I delivered a seminar at AFC Bournemouth and I asked the audience to think about the last job they had that truly sucked. “How much of your effort did you give this job as a percentage of what you could give?” I asked. The answer? 20%. Staggering.
So, in theory at least, we are all only extracting a percentage of the discretionary effort and application we could from our teams. Without winning their hearts we can’t hope to win their discretionary effort.
I want to create a company that is so magnetic that no customer or Intergager ever wants to leave it. That’s a great lofty goal but achieving that in the real world where sales, targets, growth pains, change, cash flow and day-to-day issues get in the way, can be a daunting challenge.
As far as team motivation goes, I previously shared our concept of Dream Days – a reward system that means each of our team has the potential to achieve a dream such as “Travelling Australia” or “Working for a charity in Africa for a month”.
I’m going to be working hard to make sure that my team start to see these goals as real and achievable and that Intergage is a place where dreams can and do come true for those that contribute to the successes of our customers and our business.
I am also conscious that trying to motivate others the way you motivate yourself might not work for everybody. Just because I’m motivated by setting and achieving significant travel and adventure goals, doesn’t mean everybody else is. Sometimes people don’t even have goals or dreams at all, which is sad.
Anyway, back to the staff feedback… A lot of the feedback was very good. Hearing positive comments is lovely but you don’t learn much from them. As a caring employer , I’d love to hear that everybody is happy with everything and that everybody thinks the company and their Manager is just terrific. Meanwhile back on planet earth there was some constructive criticism to deal with …
Initially reading negative or challenging feedback can be a little alarming. Most of it was constructive and understandable but not all. “How the hell could anybody think that!” I actually said out load when I read one comment. Followed by, “That’s just plain mental”, when I read another. Then it dawned on me… I’m responsible for what these people believe and feel. Ultimately I am reminded of an eternal truth I subscribe to – learned from Anthony Robbins – “The meaning of your communication is the response you get”. So if people believe weird things, my communication simply hasn’t been good enough. I must do better.
I’m reminded that as a Managing Director, ultimately it is all my fault – be that good or bad. That’s what we sign up for and that’s both the challenge and the joy isn’t it?
Still, Intergage remains a very happy place and a profitable business so long may that continue – just need to work a bit harder to get to 100% across the board! You can bet I’ll try.
In the meantime, I’m ticking off my number 1 life goal – riding a Triumph motorcycle around New Zealand with my wife Tanith and my friends John and Lynda. I’m so grateful to have a team around me that makes this possible and I know that they’ll bond together and take great pride in handling everything in my absence. My Assistant Dani will be here if you need anything and my fellow Directors will manage things splendidly in my absence.
While I’m away I’ll reflect further on the relationship between happiness and profitability in the workplace and share some more thoughts in due course.
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