Saturday, February 28, 2009

Motivate with Low or No Budget

There's a lot of discussion now about how to motivate or energize employees when you are in a situation with no money, no budget, and maybe just coming off of some fairly demotivating experiences like layoffs. I may have an answer. It's based on the results of deeper analysis of the one of the leadership pulse studies we did last year on relational capital.

Relational capital focuses on the quantity and quality of relationships a firm has with its various stakeholders (e.g. employees, customers, investors, suppliers, etc.). We ran a study in summer of 2008, and about 1,200 leaders responded. The bigger report will be available on next week, but I'll share an interesting highlight from the work that relates to the topic of this blog.

When looking at high vs. low performing firms, the higher performing firms had strong and significant differences in relational capital focused on a group of stakeholders that encompassed temporary employees, outsourced employees, the government, suppliers, and the general community. When employees thought their firm had positive and higher relational capital with these groups, employees were more motivated and firms had higher performance.

Think about what that means if you follow the logic. It suggests that you can improve morale and energy, which lead to higher productivity, by engaging in activities that help your community.

I received some great quotes from survey respondents about what they are doing to improve these relationships (these will be in the report). But in the meantime, if you are reading this, let me know what you think.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Managing layoffs

Almost everyone I talk to is managing layoffs or a victim of layoffs. The question that I continue to ask is how organizations are making layoff decisions and if anyone is comfortable with the decision rules.

How do you know that you are keeping the best talent or the people most likely qualified to help your organization grow when the economy starts to turn around? Is anyone out there doing anything innovative? Or are most organizations still using tenure as the rule?

I did a webinar last week on relational capital, and we discussed whether organizations know what relationships are walking out the door with their employees? We talked about whether you could really do this, and we brainstormed a few ideas.

1. Maybe as you are walking the employee out the door, he/she will not be too happy to tell you about all the relationships they are taking with them, but you can plan ahead. Rather than just keeping lists of names in your CRM system, do relationship audits. Or create ways to measure relational capital on a regular basis.

2. Use your outplacement providers. Can they do an audit as part of their exit interviews, and then they can share these data with the organization?

Any more suggestions? Let us know.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Transforming employee surveys

Just finished teaching a seminar on HR metrics, and we spent time looking at how to change the typical employee survey into something that adds value and that drives results. Key messages were:

1. Keep it simple - you really don't need hundreds of questions.
2. Think horizontally vs. vertically; spread questions out over time.
3. Start with results in mind.
4. From results go to action; who will take action and how.
5. How do you convince this person (or people) to take action?
6 With target in mind, what kind of data do you need?
7. What dialogue is required to accompany the data?

Dialogue focuses the data and helps guarantee results.

It seems easy, but what we learned is that there are data people and dialogue people and for some reason, their skills don't always transfer.

Thus, our challenge is to teach data people to engage in high quality dialogue, and to help dialogue people learn data skills.

If you have proven ways to make this happen, please share your success stories.

More lessons from the road coming up soon.

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