employee – engage!

Top of Mind (ToM) with a lot of entrepreneurs is "my  poor employees outcomes," "my disengaged employees," "why can't I find good help." "in the old days. . ." The coaching mantra says it all, "a fish rots from the head," and the employees you have, are those you deserve!

There are a number of reasons why employees and managers are not on the same page. The first is feedback. In South Africa we used to have a radio spot that talked about the breakfast of champions - their breakfast cereal was, of course, what makes champions. 

WHY communicate?

However, we know from anecdotal experience, that the gentle art of immediate, positive recognition & feedback is the breakfast of a champion! Very often, when we are teaching management principals, we use this game as an example. After getting the managers into our classroom, they pass over our prepared maze on the way to their seats. The maze is not hidden from them, and the complexity of the maze is almost something you could memorise. We create a maze using duct tape on the floor, maybe, even getting the class to make it as an icebreaker. When completed, we select 2 volunteers and send them out of the room while we explain the following procedures.

  • the first will manage by “beating” the participant every time they do something wrong or do nothing!
  • the second manager will use a gentle Christmas cracker canary warble whistle to recognise a correct move only,

Bring in the first participant and blindfold them at the entrance to the maze. The “manager” starts immediately to beat them around the head with a rolled up newspaper every time they step wrong or are hesitant! Bring in the second participant and the manager will only recognise good turns and advances with a gentle whistle. We have never seen that the first command and control manager gets their participant to traverse the maze. Some of them never even get off the starting line. However, those that listen to the gentle warble of the Christmas cracker whistle, almost without exception, get through the maze. The moral of the story is, immediate feedback on positive actions is far more motivational than negative feedback that tends to feed on itself and become increasingly intrusive, freezing the participants into specific roles that are destructive to both the deliverer and the receiver.

WHAT to communicate?

That is a relevant question because, it's what we do! Yes, as managers and leaders we communicate to our followers, but that communication can quickly become "background noise!" My wife is an expert communicator. She knows exactly what I want & need and she feeds that to me in small portions at unexpected times. Needless to say, those moments are valued beyond measure so, I drop everything I'm doing and pay attention!

This graphic says it all and is based on the hypothesis of delivering value. As we all know, value is what is perceived by the "beer holder", or, beholder! OUR value is almost certainly not their value and we need to take that into serious consideration. So we talk and we expect them to take to heart what we thought we may have said, what we may have mixed into our talk, what could sometimes be read between the lines - really?

"I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” - Mark Twain basically is saying, cut the fluff, only communicate what is necessary and make sure it is not surrounded with white noise. Here is a good formula to design your value hypothesis; Clarity=Connected+Quantified. What we need to try and do is connect what we are saying to things that are specific to the listeners responsibility, given them clear evidence of the benefits and select a way to measure if the communication is to produce a connected value. Then, we need to choose a way to qualify these, sometimes theoretic concepts, to a credible formula - a way for them to make sense of the concept in a "binary way' way (YES I agree or NO I don't) rather than one connected to "faith - trust me I'm your leader" concept. They will only believe the substance once they collect and own the data, so give them a way to research it and they will believe their own outcome.

the rest of the 5 W's, who, when & where

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is credited with saying, "there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Well, I can confidently say, that 100% of entrepreneurial leaders we engage with, have some kind of running battle with their employees. "They just don't get it," etc., etc. Back to that rotting head!


A short video further describing this slide, can be found in our free eCourse ~ Implement Delivery

  • Briefly, an initiating action comes in through a point-of-entry and kicks-off a task, or, (like a request for price) deposits a document that initiates the task
  • the task uses the document and (could) create others or modifies the document within the task (like sending a quote)
  • the task itself, is "governed" by two "given attributes" who is going to do it and how long they will take, but, the reason why there is a running battle between managers/leaders and workers/technicians is;
  • the created experience (that is "felt") by THE LEADER, who demands it from this task - for themselves, their customers, both internal and external ~ sometimes called their expectation(s) ~ are not being met!

Why you ask, because they were never communicated, or they were, and no-one listened or heard what was expected of them. They brought their historic baggage, what worked for them in the past, or did just enough to stay our of trouble. We're not building this company with the ethos, the character of the company to look like someone else's idea, we're building it to look like OUR IDEA, supporting our VISION of the future. The most important part of the definition of the task - the basic building block of a system or process is the documented and trained expected outcome. Built into a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) document that accompanies the technician while they execute the task. This requires thought, planning, documentation, communication, testing and around we go again.

I loved working at IBM, they were the absolute example of a process bound company. Everything was a process. When they taught us what was expected from us as we faced a potential customer, one of the things was, to accompany and watch a mentor delivering those expectations before we were certified to become customer facing employees. That meant we were capable of converting current opportunities without jeopardising FUTURE opportunities. Are your task technicians delivering a task outcome that could mean that your potential customer would never come back - or be able to refer to you (a referral) as delivering exceptional service?

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Peter French

Business Coaching is not consulting, it's also not therapy. It's a unique profession that lives somewhere in between these two poles - structured to leave lasting life and business value!

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