Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pimp My Energy

Cash? Raise? Bonus? They may help a bit, but none of them will make an energizing impact on employees these days like they have in the past. The ole standby of threats and intimidation may have worked in days gone by, but now only serve to decrease morale and build up resentment. Employees today want their supervisors to hold their best interests at heart and to SHOW IT each day. They want more meaning and responsibility in their work.

According to Bob Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Energize Employees, “trust, respect, and consideration from managers are the foundation of an energized organization.” Executives at the Cigna Group, “personally push coffee around the office, serving drinks and refreshments to their front-line partners.” This serves two purposes. First, the employees feel appreciated by the gesture made by top management. And second, they have the opportunity to raise concerns and resolve issues all at the same time – on the front line.

One of the best ways to involve employees in an organization, and to energize them in the process, is by asking for employee ideas. The City of Phoenix openly receives employee suggestions and then notifies each one “in writing about the final disposition of their suggestions within 60 days of the date the suggestion was received.” When someone’s suggestion is rejected, they’re also sent a letter giving a full explanation of why the idea wasn't accepted. How many organizations do you know of that do that? Actually, how many do you know of that have a SERIOUS suggestion program? Most talk, but don’t walk.

Who knows best what motivates your team better than they do? Get them involved with the process. That added bit of energy can come from the most “unorthodox” places. To challenge normal tech thinking, and to spur energy and creativity, Honda Motors (obviously not Toyota) places individuals who know nothing about technology on the company's design teams. Huuh? This is classic thinking outside of the box. Great ideas and discussions can come from the questions that arise from the person who knows nothing about the system. Things the people closest to the system would never have thought about.

Workplace boredom is a major cause of turnover. Energizing the job shouldn’t be a tricky task (if it is, maybe YOU’re in the wrong job). It just requires you to stay alert to opportunities to encourage people and to suggest ways for them to energize their own jobs.

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