Making Progress? If Not, Be Worried About Your Employees

progressI am always behind in my reading. I try to stay up but then I fall back. I was reading a short article in Harvard Business Review’s Reinvent January/February issuetoday and I was so struck by one “breakthrough idea” I read that literally a light bulb appeared above my head.

What really motivates workers….recognition? Try again. Incentives? Mmmm…they are important but not quite. It’s progress! And, when researchers Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer asked leaders what they thought, all said recognition was first and progress was dead last.

I feel like shouting this from the mountaintops. Amend every management course. PROGRESS! Yes! Don’t we feel frustrated when action isn’t taken? Or, politics gets in the way? Or, cumbersome approval processes prevent us from moving forward? Yes. This all affects our engagement levels and motivation because our ability to succeed, contribute and create value is inhibited.

So, as managers, and leaders especially, to improve employee engagement and retain high potential staff members, ensure that progress is being made and obstacles to progress are removed immediately.

Ensuring progress means:

  • Breaking down silos
  • Communicating frequently
  • Providing tools and technology access
  • Setting achievable goals
  • Fostering creativity
  • Securing resources
  • Involving your people in decisions

These sound so easy but they can be difficult depending on culture. But, I can’t think of a more important charter for a leader than being able to retain top talent while moving the ship forward in the right direction.

Opportunities in Down Times?

My previous entry applies to large, conservative organization that is truly closed to new ideas and just trying to keep their head above water. Let’s not kid ourselves…unfortunately, they are out there. For those braver and more entrepreneurial souls, by all means take now as an opportunity to help sell how we can make things better internally, which may include different technology.

Some companies may have made very short-term decisions in their recent RIFs that may come back to haunt them. In a year, they may find themselves scrambling to locate good talent to help position themselves well in the new marketplace.

If you have leadership that will listen, then by all means pitch social technology as a means of engaging surviving talent – posing yourself for the great recruitment adventure to come as well as positioning your products and services within the marketplace.

If you’re looking to stretch your dollar, then borrow public social tools for now until you can procure something more sophisticated if that’s needed. If the lawyers don’t allow you to do that, then it’s time for all Learning and Knowledge Professionals to become sales professionals. We want to stay afloat but occasionally waves come by and we need to have a sea-worthy craft to ride them out. If your craft is 10 years old and not sea-worthy, then negotiate for small, trial implementations to prove their value.

Now, if we put our neck on the line for wish list items like this, then we MUST bribe, persuade and cajole our test groups to use the heck out of these tools so not only do we get to keep them but we get to expand them when the waves start to diminish.

We all have an inner Salesperson. We sell everyday, don’t we? We may not make any revenue or claim more marketshare but we seek something more important – mindshare. I’ll never forget the first time I heard that term…almost 10 years ago. It struck a deep chord with me. YES! That is what I sell – getting people to agree with my ideas